Yesterday, the BBC reported that the regulator of heath care services in England has called for a limit on the length of time in reporting the results of patients' x-rays and scans.
In a review of radiology practices, the Care Quality Commission found that the process could vary from one hour to two working days in hospital A&Es. This has resulted in delays of results being shared with doctors and subsequently in patients receiving timely care. The review also found that there were not enough radiologists to meet demand.
The Care Quality Commission asked all 151 health trusts in England to report on their own internal benchmarks for radiology reporting, which has revealed huge variations in the time taken to examine and report on scans and x-rays. Some of the findings of this review were:
- For urgent or fast track cases, this varied from two to five working days
- In A&E, the range was one hour to two working days
- And for GP referrals, while some trusts aimed to report back within 24 hours, others settled for 21 days
Noting the results from the review, Cancer Research UK stressed the importance of radiology scans in diagnosing many cancers and how extremely worrying it is that some patients were waiting a long time.
Speaking on the review, the Care Quality Commission's Chief Inspector, Professor Ted Baker, said:
"While our review found some examples of good practice, it also revealed a major disparity in timescales for interpreting and reporting on examinations, meaning that some patients are waiting far longer than others for their results. We are calling for agreed national standards to ensure consistent, timely reporting of radiological examinations. This will allow trusts to monitor and benchmark their own performances - and ensure that, for example, patients are not put at risk by delays in their x-ray results being reported to the clinician responsible for their care."
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