More than 13,000 radiology images to be reviewed over concerns about consultant

Northern Ireland health trust review will see 9,091 patients contacted in coming days

The review commenced in the week beginning June 21st and it is expected to be complete by the end of October 2021. Photograph: iStock

The review commenced in the week beginning June 21st and it is expected to be complete by the end of October 2021. Photograph: iStock

 

A Northern Ireland health trust has announced it is to review more than 13,000 radiology images of patients following concerns about the work of a locum consultant radiologist.

The Northern Trust confirmed that it has commenced a “lookback review” into radiology image reporting completed by the radiologist, who had been engaged by the trust between July 2019 and February 2020.

The review will see 9,091 patients being contacted over coming days and relates to 13,030 radiology images reported on by the radiologist.

The trust said less than 7 per cent of the patients may have received a delayed diagnosis as a result of “unsatisfactory image reporting”.

Seamus O’Reilly, medical director at the Northern Trust, said: “Following concerns raised by the General Medical Council, I requested that a small sample of 30 CT scans that had been reported on by this particular locum radiologist be reviewed.

“As a result of that audit, the trust has decided to undertake a full review of all radiology reports issued by the locum consultant radiologist during their time with the trust.”

Dr O’Reilly added: “Each year in the trust we report on over 300,000 radiology images. This review concerns 13,030 images which were reported on by this one radiologist during the period July 2019 to February 2020.

“All of those images would have been taken in Antrim Area Hospital, Causeway Hospital, Whiteabbey Hospital, Mid Ulster Hospital or the Ballymena Health and Care Centre. No other hospitals or healthcare facilities are involved.

“We have written to 9,091 patients or the parents/guardians, where appropriate, to make them aware of the review.

“Those letters were all posted first class and should start arriving today and over the next few days. If people do not receive a letter, it means that their images are not included in the review.

“We appreciate that this will be a worrying and anxious time for those who do receive a letter. I would stress that all of the images relating to the 9,091 patients will be reviewed, but based on our initial audit, we estimate that less than 7 per cent may have experienced a delay in diagnosis as a result of unsatisfactory image reporting.

“That does not mean that they will all have come to harm as a result but we will be making a further clinical assessment in each of those cases.”

Dr O’Reilly said: “Patients who receive the letter do not need to take any action. We plan to run the review and recall stages of this process in tandem.

“This means that every patient will be contacted again as soon as we know the outcome in relation to their images and for those who may require further imaging or a follow-up appointment, we will make the necessary arrangements very quickly.”

The review commenced in the week beginning June 21st and it is expected to be complete by the end of October 2021.

The trust said it is being carried out by a “qualified and experienced external provider”.

A helpline and dedicated email address has been established for anyone who receives a letter and is particularly concerned.

Freephone number 0800 023 4377 has been set up and can be called from 8am-8pm Monday to Friday and 10am-4pm Saturday and Sunday and public holidays. The dedicated email address is radiologyreview@northerntrust.hscni.net. – PA