Northern Health and Social Care Trust announces review into radiology image reporting

The Northern Trust has commenced a Lookback Review into radiology image reporting completed by a Locum Consultant Radiologist, who had been engaged by the Trust between July 2019 and February 2020.

Tuesday, 29th June 2021, 9:36 am
Updated Tuesday, 29th June 2021, 9:59 am
Editorial image.

Announcing the Lookback Review today (Tuesday), Dr. 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.

“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 seven percent 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.

“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 21, 2021 and it is expected to be complete by the end of October 2021.

It is being carried out by a qualified and experienced external provider that is already contracted by HSC to do this sort of work and Consultant Radiologists in the Trust.

A helpline and dedicated email address has been established for anyone who receives a letter and is particularly concerned. A free phone 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 [email protected]ust.hscni.net.

The Trust will also be providing psychological support services throughout the course of the review for any patients who might be particularly anxious.

Further details, including frequently asked questions and answers, can be accessed from the front page of the Northern Trust’s website www.northerntrust.hscni.net