Patients in Devon wait up to five months for scan results

Posted by Samantha Ward on

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I was disappointed, but sadly not surprised, to read about patients having undergone diagnostic scans at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, Devon waiting up to five months to get the results. 

Whilst diagnostic imaging is a routine undertaking in any hospital Trust, when an individual needs to have an x-ray or a scan it can be a big deal; it could be to diagnose the cause of a worrying symptom of chronic or acute pain, it may be a surveillance scan to confirm that a previous tumour has not returned, or there may even be a concern regarding cancer.  With this in mind, surely it is only right that the results of the scan should be communicated to the patient or their GP within a reasonable period of time?

Unfortunately this is not an isolated incident; this firm has previously acted for clients who, due to unbelievable administrative incompetence and delays, were left waiting for over a year for the results of their scan.  One client underwent an ultrasound scan of her shoulder to determine the cause of an acute pain she suffered during the course of her work.  She waited over a year for the result which in fact showed a complete tear of her rotator cuff.  The result of the delay in diagnosis meant that the surgery, which would likely have been successful had it been done shortly after the original injury, was in fact unsuccessful due to excessive retraction of the tendon.  This resulted in our client having to leave the job she loved after an extended period of sick leave.

This example illustrates how very important it is for the results of diagnostic investigations to be reported promptly.   Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust Chief Executive Ann James has acknowledged that such lengthy delays are not acceptable and a recent Care Quality Commission (CQC) rated the hospital's diagnostics department at 'inadequate'. 

Delays at Plymouth were blamed on a lack of radiology staff nationally and locally and the number of staff on long term sick leave.  I would suggest in addition that urgent attention be paid to the administrative procedures employed once the scans have actually been done and reported!  Read the story here.  

Let's hope a solution is found soon before patients suffer potentially serious effects of these delays.


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About the Author

Photograph of Samantha Ward

Sam is a Registered Nurse with 17 years' experience working in the NHS. She uses her medical and nursing knowledge and experience to liaise with clients.

Samantha Ward
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