A BBC investigation has found that over one million patients in the UK are waiting too long for vital medical tests like MRI scans, CT scans, ultrasounds and endoscopies.
In the last year, the number of patients waiting longer than the recommended six weeks has risen from 9,000 to almost 29,000 in England. One in seven patients has waiting for a scan for more than three months.
In Scotland, over 18,500 patients are waiting longer than six weeks to receive a scan, which is more than one third up in the last year.
The increase in wait times is primarily due to the lack of radiographers: only one in 11 radiographer roles are filled. There were 14,067 funded posts in April, but 1,283 were vacant.
The tests that patients are waiting for can diagnose problems such as tumours, heart disease and multiple sclerosis. The significant delay in diagnosing patients is life threatening – early diagnosis is often key to treating such diseases and disorders.
Richard Evans, head of the Society of Radiographers, said he was concerned about the situation.
“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.”
When a patient requires an MRI scan, CT scan or ultrasound, it’s important that they are seen as soon as possible. That’s why many patients are turning to private clinics.
Newcastle Clinic can offer an open MRI scan or ultrasound far quicker – with maximum wait times of just seven days. Often, we can complete a scan within just three days of receiving a referral. And we ensure that all patients receive their results within one week.
Our open MRI scanner is also much more comfortable and less stressful for most patients. It does not have an enclosed tube like the standard NHS scanners, is much quieter and more acceptable for patients who are claustrophobic, of large build, overweight, obese, anxious or frail.
Contact us if you are waiting for an MRI scan or ultrasound. We can accept referrals on the NHS for patients who are claustrophobic or obese, and also serve self-funding patients and those with private healthcare.