“AT LAST the truth is finally coming out – perhaps now the people of Worcester, Redditch and Kidderminster will get the quality health care they deserve.”
That was the verdict of campaigners battling to lift the lid on what they say has been a ‘massive cover up’ over unreported X-rays at the local health trust.
It comes after tip off sparked a snap inspection by health watchdogs the Care Quality Commission which discovered Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust (WAHT) had failed to write up up some 11,000 X-ray reports.
And campaigners claim that at least one patient has been found to be suffering from a severe illness – six months after her X-ray at WAHT.
“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,” said Nigel Gilbert, chairman of the campaign group Betrayed By Their Trust (BBTT).
The CQC paid an unannounced visit to the trust on July 27 where they found more than 11,000 X-rays had gone unreported, with some dating back to January.
These had been carried out in the radiology departments of Worcestershire Royal, Worcester, Kidderminster Hospital and the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch.
The CQC ‘gold standard’ is two weeks and by law patients should not wait longer than six weeks for a diagnostic test.
The reports are vital as they tell medical staff exactly what has been found on an X-ray, allowing appropriate treatment to be prescribed.
WAHT is currently in special measures following an earlier CQC inspection.
Mr Gilbert said BBTT had been trying to raise awareness of the issue for nearly a year and first highlighted it two and a half years ago when a whistleblower spoke out.
“We know patients have been put at risk but the only way to make this trust sit up and take notice is to hit it with something serious,” he said.
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: “I can confirm that we had an unannounced visit from the CQC on July 27, 2016.
“The CQC had a number of questions and concerns, about a backlog of unreported plain films (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. The backlog is composed of mainly routine x rays requested by our hospital consultants which are sent to the referring clinician for review and action. Historically, these were not reported by a radiologist, and today we have put a new process in place to ensure that those X-rays that need the back-up of a radiologist report get it in a timely way.
There is no backlog of GP referred X-rays, CT, MRI or ultrasound scans. We have always and will continue to prioritise urgent X-rays, chest X-rays and GP referred X-rays, and there is no backlog in these areas.”