IN THE last year 29,000 people waited over six weeks for results from their scans and biopsies, due to a massive shortage of NHS staff. This risks cancers spreading while patients wait for their results to come back, the Royal Society of Radiographers (RSR) warned yesterday. One-in-seven has waited more than three months!
Tests such as scans and biopsies are crucial for diagnosing illnesses.
Tomorrow (8th November) is World Radiography Day and across the UK one-in-11 diagnostic radiographer posts are vacant. The RSR’s chief executive officer, Richard Evans, said that the lack of radiographers is likely to be a key cause behind patients having increasingly long waits for diagnostic scans.
Evans said: ‘If we are going to identify things like cancer early we need more diagnostics. ‘We are struggling to cope with demand and that creates delays for patients. ‘It is not just about staffing either. We have ageing machines that are not as efficient as they should be.’
Emma Greenwood, Cancer Research UK director of policy, said: ‘The diagnostic bottleneck is already threatening the care of many, and presents a challenge which must be faced head on if we are serious about improving care for cancer patients.’
Meanwhile, new research by doctors’ union the BMA shows a ‘year-round NHS crisis’ with A&Es struggling in summer as badly as in winter months. The new BMA analysis is based on an examination of data released each month by NHS England that shows the level of pressure on emergency care services.
According to these figures, 200,000 more patients were left stranded for more than four hours on a trolley waiting for care after being admitted to hospital in the most recent winter period compared to the same timeframe in 2012.
In light of these findings, doctors’ leaders have warned that the government must ensure extra funding reaches frontline services this winter. Dr Simon Walsh, an emergency care doctor and member of the BMA’s consultants committee said: ‘Behind these figures lie real stories of misery.
‘Tens of thousands of patients are being left in crowded, cramp‘ed corridors, waiting for treatment while others are having to endure longer waits to even see a doctor or nurse. ‘We cannot and should not allow this appalling state of affairs to continue.’