Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Patients Waiting More Than a Year for a Scan; SHORTAGE OF STAFF MEANS NHS EQUIPMENT LIES IDLE AND LIVES COULD BE AT RISK

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Patients Waiting More Than a Year for a Scan; SHORTAGE OF STAFF MEANS NHS EQUIPMENT LIES IDLE AND LIVES COULD BE AT RISK

Article excerpt

Byline: ISABEL OAKESHOTT;REBECCA SMITH

PATIENTS in London are still waiting more than a year for vital scans despite a pledge by the Government to cut "hidden" waiting lists.

The average wait for an MRI check at some hospitals is eight months, with a delay of up to six months before patients can even join the list.

This means conditions such as brain tumours may not be diagnosed until a patient's condition has seriously deteriorated. Yet a shortage of staff qualified to operate the NHS scanners and interpret results means the machinery is often lying idle.

Although the figures are better than a year ago - when some hospitals were quoting average waits of 18 months - they are still among the worst in the country.

Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt has announced that from November patients who wait longer than 20 weeks for a scan can choose to go to another hospital or go private.

The Government wants all patients to be seen, diagnosed and treated within 18 weeks, from GP to operating table, by 2008. This is to tackle the "hidden" NHS lists of people waiting for tests that are not recorded and, until now, have not been subjected to targets.

An Evening Standard survey of hospitals reveals huge variations in waits for MRI scans across London. While Homerton Hospital in Hackney offers all patients scans within two weeks, the average wait at St Mary's Paddington, and at Barking, Havering and Redbridge Hospitals Trust, is eight months.

The Epsom and St Helier Trust and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwichsay their average waiting time is five to six weeks while the Whittington in north London sees patients in six weeks.

A wait at many other hospitals is between three and six months and at Kingston Hospital it is 11 months.

Most patients who need MRI scans are referred by specialists, so they have already had a long wait from the time they went to their GP. Many wait more than four months for an appointment with a consultant, pushing the total waiting time for a scan at some hospitals to more than a year. Experts believe more money should be given to hospitals to help speed up access to scanners instead of the Government paying for long-waiting patients to use the private sector. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.