THE number of patients facing long waits for scans in England is steadily increasing month-on-month, according to figures published by NHS England.
More than 192,000 patients in England had been waiting six weeks or more for a CT, MRI or ultrasound scan in September compared to 11,338 in February 2020. The number of patients waiting more than 13 weeks for the same scans is now 50,348 compared to 1,636 in February 2020.
The Royal College of Radiologist is increasingly concerned by the figures and is calling on hospitals and NHS leaders to act now to support hospital imaging teams to tackle the upswing in waits.
RCR President Dr Jeanette Dickson said: "Today’s figures show the relentless pressure on radiology departments continues, and the number of patients in England facing long waits for scans is rising again because of staffing constraints and the onset of winter pressures.
"To stop this spiral of long waits, trusts and the wider NHS need to maximise what short-term solutions they can right now to support, better equip and retain our imaging workforce. This means speeding up the rollout of connected imaging networks and the ability of radiologists to report remotely, upskilling non-medics to report certain scans, as well enabling more flexible working patterns.
"For the medium to long-term, we must see a concerted high-level commitment from NHS and Government officials to address the radiology workforce crisis via sustainable investment in more radiologists, radiographers and imaging support staff, as well as increasing global recruitment."