May 17 2004
The Birmingham Post
Patients at a Midland hospital have had to wait up to 18 months for a routine MRI scan because of a lack of funding.
The wait for a non-emergency scan at Walsall Manor Hospital is the longest in the country, according to a nationwide survey of hospitals.
However, a spokeswoman for the Walsall Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the Manor, said waiting times had already been reduced since that figure had been made available.
MRI scans are used to help diagnose a wide range of illnesses and conditions in patients, from brain disorders and tumours to back and knee problems.
They are also used in the diagnosis of cancers, multiple sclerosis and arthritis.
The wait for an MRI is longer than one year at five other UK hospitals, compounded by a national shortage of radiographers, who prepare and advise patients, carry out and develop the scans.
At the Manor the £1 million scanner is provided by private company Lister InHealth.
A hospital spokeswoman said the wait for a routine scan was particularly long because it had been prioritising emergency work.
But she added the trust had recently obtained more funding from Walsall Primary Care Trust to enable more patients to receive faster scans.
"In the past three months the trust has secured extra funding from the PCT to put more and more routine patients through," she said.
"But bearing in mind the 550 figure was taken at a given point in time, the wait is already less than that."
A spokesman for Lister would not disclose details about the number of patients it was funded to treat, but said: "We can only do the work we are contracted to do. There has been a lot of emergency work going through but it is true to say that we do have some spare capacity."
Department of Health figures claim the average wait for a routine scan
in the UK has fallen to 132 days, from 154 days in 2001/02.
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