Imaging backlog, lack of radiology resources creating ‘perfect storm’ for hospitals

Hospitals throughout England are in critical need of more machines, staff and space to handle the backlog of scans deferred during the pandemic, with more than 600,000 people currently waiting for such exams.

In fact, as the Guardian reported July 14, more than half of patients referred for imaging are waiting six weeks or more. That number skyrocketed from 20,898 in May 2019 to 326,525 in May 2020.

Deputy Chief Executive of National Health Services Providers Saffron Cordery told the news outlet that England already had far fewer CT scanners compared to other countries. And the pressure is “likely to intensify in the coming months,” as pent up demand floods imaging departments.

Meanwhile, the NHS has acknowledged the problem, saying it will be deploying part of its growing capital budget to increase capacity.

But one doctor with the Royal College of Radiologists said the situation is looking grim.

“It’s sort of a perfect storm in terms of delivering capacity; it was not good before COVID-19 and now it has reduced as a result of it,” Caroline Rubin, MD, told the Guardian. “I have no idea how long it will take to clear the backlog. We are doing all we can in terms of trying to get patients through.”

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