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Radiology reports warning

GPs' patients are being left at risk of 'significant long-term harm' after referral to radiology units because of a breakdown in continuity of care, a new report has warned.

The National Patient Safety Agency and Royal College of Radiologists warned that GPs and other referring healthcare professionals were risking patient safety by 'a failure to acknowledge and act on radiological imaging reports'.

They said: 'The system for requesting radiology imaging tests and sending reports to the referring health professional is unreliable and has been proven to fail.'

The NPSA received 31 reports of failure to follow up radiological imaging reports between November 2003 and May 2006, most involving 'fatalities or significant long-term harm'.

Dr Orest Mulka, a GP in Meas-ham, Leicestershire, and cancer lead for Leicester and Rutland PCT, said it was 'vitally important' radiology tests were followed up, and was 'down to having a system in place in each practice to make sure results are followed up'.

But Dr Murray Freeman, a GP in Birkenhead, said radiology services worked 'really well' in Wirral PCT, where he is cancer lead.

Dr Freeman described the number of patient safety incidents as an 'absolutely tiny' proportion of all the radiology tests that GPs request.

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