The Care Quality Commission, the NHS's regulator, has found that results of x-rays and scans are not being reported quick enough, resulting in a delay in patients receiving care.
The CQC asked 151 health trusts in the UK to reveal their benchmarks for reporting radiology findings.
And disappointingly, there was found to be a ‘major disparity’ across the nation in how long medical professionals took to examine and report on scans and x-rays.
Slowest reponse times were found in GP referrals, where some trusts didn’t report back for 21 days. Some however aimed to report back in 24 hours.
In A&E, the reporting range was found to be between one hour and two working days. And for urgent cases, the time went between two-five working days – which some could easily consider to be too long.
Professor Ted Baker, CQC’s chief inspector of hospitals, talking to the BBC, said that better performance was needed, in order to make sure that medical professionals are not putting patients at risk.
He said, “While our review found some examples of good practice, it also revealed a major disparity in timescales for interpreting and reporting on examinations, meaning that some patients are waiting far longer than others for their results.
“We are calling for agreed national standards to ensure consistent, timely reporting of radiological examinations,” he said.
“This will allow trusts to monitor and benchmark their own performances – and ensure that, for example, patients are not put at risk by delays in their x-ray results being reported to the clinician responsible for their care.”
The news comes after concerns were raised about the delays in radiology reporting at three trusts – Worcester Royal Hospital, Kettering General Hospital and Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth – following inspections.
Care Quality Commission also revealed that the problem has been made worse by a shortage of radiology professionals – the people who work on scans and x-rays.
The CQC has now called for a limit on the amount of time it takes to report results.