Lack of consultants caused x-ray backlog - RQIA

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A shortage of consultant radiologists caused a backlog of almost 20,000 x-rays at Altnagelvin Hospital, an independent review has found.

The review, carried out by the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) and published today, found that “the most important factor leading to delays in reporting of plain x-rays at Altnagelvin Hospital in the Western Trust from mid-2008 to October 2010 was a major shortfall in consultant radiologists, due to unfilled funded posts.”

Four cancer patients received late cancer diagnoses due to the delay.

SDLP MLA for Foyle,Mark H Durkan, says the Western Trust must never repeat the errors that led to delayed X-ray results and,consequently,late diagnosis for cancer patients.

‘’This report highlights the systematic errors that resulted in these unacceptable delays and resulted ultimately in late diagnoses for cancer suffererers- two of whom have sadly died since.

“The review’s findings that no standardised procedure was in in place across the North for dealing with the backlog, nor indeed did regional guidelines exist on communication with patients and families.

“I sincerely hope that the Western Trust implement the recommendations as a matter urgency and that lessons have been learned from this whole sorry episode. While this will be of little consolation to families who have lost loved ones it will at least prevent further undue stress for future patients and heartbreak for their families.

You can read the report in full here

Full coverage in Friday’s ‘Derry Journal’.