The National Health Service could be moving towards providing a seven-day service to help cut back on delays and improve weekend care.

The NHS Commissioning Board has revealed that it will establish a new forum tasked with looking into the viability of providing some routine services over the weekend, to offer "greater customer convenience".

The forum will consider expanding services in diagnostics and urgent and emergency care in the first instance, and is expected to report its findings in the Autumn of 2013. 

The Department of Health said it is behind the move.

"Offering easier access to hospital consultants, GPs and routine hospital services seven days a week will reduce delays and ensure that patients get seen and treated by experienced healthcare professionals," commented health minister Lord Howe in an emailed statement.

The British Medical Association also reportedly said it is "open to discussions" on improving weekend and evening care for patients, according to the BBC. 

NHSCB blueprint

Plans for the move were unveiled by the NHSCB in its blueprint for 2013/14, which outlines its plan of action for service improvement in its first year of action, and promises real-terms funding increases in all areas.

The Board said it will dish out £65.6 billion to clinical commissioning groups (CCG) and local authorities across the country, marking an overall increase of 2.6%. 

The lion's share of this - £64.7 billion - will go to CCGs for the commissioning of local secondary, community and mental healthcare services, while local authorities will get £859 million to support collaboration on social care priorities (up from £622 million).

The Board itself will, for the first time, commission some services nationally, which will help to drive improvement by reducing variation in access to them, it said. A budget of £25.4 billion has been ringfenced for these services, also marking a 2.6% rise over the equivalent activities in 2012/13.

Overall, the group has pledged to "drive a revolution for patients, offering the public more information about quality of care and giving them greater control of their health", and that it will "help local clinicians deliver more responsive health services, focused on improving outcomes for patients, addressing local priorities and meeting the rights people have under the NHS Constitution".