More than 11,000 scans of patients at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust (WAHT) were not assessed or written up, raising serious concerns for patient safety.
These X-rays are used to diagnose serious health problems, including cancer along with many conditions that may require further treatment.
Of most concern here is the significant risk that patients’ treatment has been delayed.
This issue dates back to January, 2016 and was only discovered by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) during an unannounced inspection to the Trust on July 27. The independent health regulator found more than 11,000 scans remain unreported after being carried out at the radiology departments of the Alexandra Hospital, Redditch, Worcestershire Royal Hospital and Kidderminster Hospital.
Further to this, the CQC found that urgent scans were not always prioritised, meaning GPs did not receive patients’ results for more than two weeks.
The CQC has instructed WAHT to take immediate steps to resolve the matter to ensure:
- an investigation to assess if patients with delayed scans need further treatment;
- doctors receive the results of urgent scans as soon as possible so that treatment is not delayed any longer;
- medics who refer patients for scans receive a report on the findings.
The findings of the CQC are truly shocking, as is the scale of the problem.
The Trust is reportedly facing a £50m deficit, but lack of funding in the NHS cannot and must not be allowed to be an excuse for poor patient care.
Andrew Short, interim chief medical officer at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust said: “The CQC had a number of questions and concerns, about a backlog of unreported plain films (X-rays), which were predominantly internally requested routine X-rays, to which we have responded fully.
“There is no backlog of GP referred X-rays, CT, MRI or ultrasound scans. We have always and will continue to prioritise urgent X-rays, chest X-rays and GP referred X-rays, and there is no backlog in these areas.”
I hope that the Trust in question fulfils its obligations under the Duty of Candour to inform any patients that may have suffered harm as a consequence of the delay in reporting these X-Rays.
Any patients who feel that they may have been affected must seek an urgent referral back to the Trust and demand that their X-rays are reviewed and acted upon.
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