More than 400,000 radiology scans outsourced
19 August 2018, 08:14 | Updated: 19 August 2018, 08:17
Health boards have sent radiology scans to external providers for analysis almost 400,000 times in the last three years, according to new figures.
Figures released to the Scottish Liberal Democrats show a rise in the number of scans sent to external radiology providers for reporting, from 120,533 in 2015/16 to 143,983 in 2017/18.
Over the three year period the total was at least 398,328, as two health boards - Forth Valley and Ayrshire and Arran - could not provide a figure in response to freedom of information requests.
The Royal College of Radiologists in Scotland recently warned the health service is on "red alert" over a shortage of qualified staff.
Lib Dem health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP called for an annual report on workforce planning.
He said: "NHS boards are having to rely on private sector providers to interpret hundreds of thousands of scans that are essential to treating patients.
"The body for radiologists in the Scottish NHS has warned that the profession is on the brink of collapse.
"This requires far more than a few dozen training places over the next five years and some warm words from the new Health Secretary.
"It's a shame to see the Scottish NHS forced to line the pockets of private firms because the SNP's workforce planning has not been good enough."
He added: "The challenges facing radiology are a microcosm of those facing the wider NHS. The department is critical to patients getting timely treatment and the smooth operation of other parts of the hospital.
"I am calling for the Health Minister to publish an annual report on workforce planning and lead an annual debate on it at Parliament. That would mean failings can be identified and rectified before it's too late.
"If the SNP were watching this closely we'd not be at the stage where radiology is struggling to cope with a staffing drought."