Patients are waiting longer for important chest scans at Doncaster hospitals

Workloads for GPs are increasing
Workloads for GPs are increasing

Patients are waiting longer than they did last year for important chest scans at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, figures show.

The latest NHS England data shows that 290 people were referred for a CT scan on their chest or abdomen at the trust in June.

On average, those patients had to wait 13 days, from the date of the request to the scan.

This is slightly up from an average 10 day wait in June 2017.

CT scans are used to detect lung cancer, among other illnesses.

Across England, waiting times increased for ultrasounds and MRI scans on the brain, as well as CT imaging.

Dr Caroline Rubin, vice president for clinical radiology at the Royal College of Radiologists, said trusts were short staffed and under-equipped.

“There are not enough radiographers to do these scans, and equipment is at capacity, so even if we had more staff they wouldn’t have equipment to use,” she explained.

She said that the annual data and the RCR’s own yearly census backed up the monthly figures.

“If you look at our data, you can see that the number of CT and MRI scans that are performed has gone up by about 10% each year.”

Research by the college shows one in ten CT scanners and nearly a third of MRI scanners in UK hospitals are technically obsolete, while still being used.

On top of this, Dr Rubin says not enough doctors are being trained in radiology and claims more than 10% of consultant radiologist posts are vacant in UK hospitals.

As well as waiting for a test, patients have to wait afterwards for the results.

“This can have a psychological impact on people who may think they have cancer, even if the scan is clear,” Dr Rubin said.

She said that while a two week wait for a scan is unlikely to have an adverse affect on a cancer patient, it does delay the overall treatment process.

At Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust patients had to wait longer for CT scans on their chests and abdomens, the same time for kidney and bladder scans and the same time for ultrasounds. People generally had X-rays on the same day as they booked the appointment.

At the Conservative party conference, Theresa May announced the plan to build rapid diagnostic centres around the country as part of new cancer strategy.

“The key to boosting your chances of surviving cancer is an early diagnosis,” the Prime Minister said.

“Through our cancer strategy we will increase the early detection rates from one-in-two today to three-in-four by 2028.

“We’ll do it by lowering the age which we screen for bowel cancer from 60 to 50, by investing in the very latest scanners, and by building more rapid diagnosis centres.”