Report: Hospital managers knew of missed cancers from x-ray backlog

By staff writers

August 31, 2021 -- Up to 30 cancers may have knowingly gone undetected two years before an official probe into a backlog of thousands of x-rays at a U.K. National Health Service (NHS) hospital group, according to an article from the BBC.

The BBC stated that senior managers knew of the missed cancers at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, and that neither the Care Quality Commission nor Healthwatch Worcestershire were notified of the possible harm to patients, despite both investigating the situation in 2016.

A whistleblower revealed the backlog but was struck off after allegations of fraud. The radiographer has since been reinstated, according to the article.

The Worcestershire Royal is one of the facilities operated by the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust
The Worcestershire Royal is one of the facilities operated by the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust. Photo courtesy of Paul Weston/Alamy Stock Photo.

A committee looked at 30% of the x-ray backlog at the trust and identified three missed lung cancer cases, as well as another 20 to 30 possible cases of cancer, the BBC reported. If nothing had been done, more than 42,000 x-rays and scans would have gone unexamined by an expert the following year, so a range of options for dealing with the issue were recommended.

The BBC report stated that Simon Adams of Healthwatch Worcestershire now believes that misleading information was given by the hospital's then chief executive Chris Tidman, who gave assurances there was no backlog of x-rays and scans in early 2016. Adams said that having reported there was no backlog in 2016 at the board meeting, the local healthwatch group was surprised and embarrassed when the backlog was identified.

Tidman, who is now deputy chief executive at Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, was present at both 2014 meetings of the trust management committee that discussed the backlog and missed cancer cases. The BBC claims it has repeatedly tried to speak with Tidman but has been referred back to the Worcestershire trust.

Copyright © 2021

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