Survey: Long imaging wait times may lead to preventable deaths

By staff writers

November 8, 2022 -- Following consultation with members, the U.K. Royal College of Radiologists (RCR) is warning that diagnostic delays caused by long imaging wait times could lead to otherwise preventable patient deaths this winter.

In a survey called the RCR Insight Panel, more than three-quarters (78%) of clinical radiology and oncology staff expressed concern that the winter will be the "most difficult on record," particularly in regard to cancer diagnosis. More than two-thirds (69%) of poll respondents stated they believe stage I and II diagnoses could be delayed, according to the RCR.

"Over 80% of patients seeking diagnosis will require a scan, making radiology central to an efficient NHS," the college said in a statement released on 7 November.

"Almost every doctor polled (93%) said pressure means patients will be waiting longer for a diagnosis this winter. The [concern is] supported by Diagnostic Waiting Times and Activity NHS England figures collated in August 2022, which revealed more than 35,000 people in England are waiting over thirteen weeks for an MRI or CT scan. This is 26,000 more than in August 2021," it added.

RCR President Dr. Katharine Halliday urged the U.K. government to take action.

"If the Government is serious about catching cancer early and eliminating preventable deaths in winter, they urgently need to commit to a fully costed and funded healthcare workforce plan," she said in the statement. "Without more funding, patients risk going undiagnosed or waiting far too long for treatment, neither of which is acceptable."

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