‘An absolute catastrophe’: Radiologists struggling to work through massive imaging backlog

Radiologists in the United Kingdom are struggling to work through the massive imaging backlog caused by the coronavirus crisis, with patients facing long delays and concerns of worsening cancer cases.

Upward of 850,000 MRI and CT scans need to be carried out in the country, but the National Health Service would need to increase the number of radiology posts by one-third, the Independent reported Wednesday.

An NHS radiologist who asked to remain anonymous said his unit has postponed more than 9,000 imaging tests.

“It is an absolute catastrophe. There are patients waiting to know if they have cancer or not and we can’t say when the scan is even going to get done,” the physician said.

The Royal College of Radiologists estimates that the country needs another 1,900 radiologists to work through all of the cases, and many scanners in the U.K. are over a decade old. Imaging centers are currently running at about 60% capacity, Caroline Rubin, MD, VP of clinical radiology, told the publication.

“We are extremely worried; radiologists touch every clinical pathway,” she said. “Across the board people are being disadvantaged and some of them may be sitting on serious disease, including cancer.”

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