THE management at the local health trust has been slammed after its latest failing – 11,000 X-rays going unreported with at least one patient being later found to have cancer.
It follows a snap, unannounced inspection of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust (WAHT) by members of the health watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC) last Wednesday following a tip off from a whistleblower who’d told them where to look.
“It’s beyond parody – there’s a disaster practically every week and if this was the private sector people would be sacked,” said Neal Stote, chairman of Save the Alex.
“It comes down to governance – management knew about this because the CQC apparently raised their concerns about X-rays going unreviewed two years ago.
“The trust is in special measures, the board is made up of interims they’ve had an ‘improvement director’ for over a year and what has she done?
“No chairman has been appointed and we’re no further forward in finding a chief executive it’s a mess.
“Are these really the people who will be facing up to the challenges of the NHS over the next 12 months?”
The CQC inspection found more than 11,000 scans dating back to Janauary had gone unreported after being carried out at the Alexandra Hospital, Redditch, Worcestershire Royal Hospital and Kidderminster Hospital – raising fears serious conditions could have been missed.
It is understood the CQC demanded the trust immediately rectify the issue but was unsatisfied with WAHT’s plan of action and forced them to revise it.
The alert had been raised by a member of the campaign group Betrayed By Their Trust – a body formed following allegations of bullying at WAHT.
Its chairman, Nigel Gilbert said: “”We’ve been telling people about this for nearly a year, MPs, councillors, Health Watch, the Clinical Commissioning Groups – thank goodness the CQC has taken action. At last the truth is finally coming out.”
The CQC ‘gold standard’ for reporting X-rays is two weeks but by law patients should not wait any longer than six weeks for a diagnostic test, a key right laid out in the NHS constitution.
A CQC spokesperson said: “CQC carried out an inspection regarding radiology at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust on July 27 following information that had been received. A report of our findings will be published in due course.”
Andrew Short, interim chief medical officer at WAHT said: “The CQC had a number of questions and concerns, about a backlog of unreported X-rays, which were predominantly internally requested routine X-rays, to which we have responded fully.
“Our response included a comprehensive action plan to address the issues raised, and to clear the backlog of unreported scans by October 2016.”