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Watchdog to launch probe into X-ray mess

The management of X-rays across Northern Ireland is to come under the spotlight after it emerged four patients were given a late diagnosis of lung cancer.

The Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) — an independent health watchdog — is to examine the way radiological procedures are handled in hospitals around Northern Ireland.

Health Minister Michael McGimpsey said he asked the RQIA to conduct a province-wide review following delays in reporting X-rays in the Western Trust.

He was criticised last week when he announced an investigation into the handling of concerns by the Belfast Trust over the work of a consultant dentist but did not launch a probe into the X-ray fiasco at Altnagelvin Hospital.

Speaking after the issue was revealed in a Health & Social Care Board report, Mr McGimpsey ruled out any further investigation into the X-ray blunder.

At least one person has died and another is terminally ill with lung cancer after staff shortages in the Western Trust led to a backlog of 18,500 X-rays.

One patient was taking paracetamol for several months to ease his pain not knowing he was suffering from cancer.

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But now Mr McGimpsey has said he wants a review of radiology services across the province.

He said: “The public must have the confidence in our health and social care services. I want to reassure them that I will do all that I can to ensure that we have the systems in place to prevent something like this happening again.”

Public confidence in the NHS is at an all-time low following a series of blunders and damning assessments of services.

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