Northern Trust will review more than 13,000 x-ray images due to concerns over the work of a consultant

A Northern Ireland health trust has announced that it will review more than 13,000 X-ray images of patients following concerns about the work of a locum consultant radiologist.

The Northern Trust confirmed it had begun a “retrospective review” of radiology image reports made by the radiologist, who was engaged by the trust between July 2019 and February 2020.

The review will see 9,091 patients contacted over the next few days and involves 13,030 radiological images reported by the radiologist.

The trust said less than 7% of patients may have received a delayed diagnosis due to an “unsatisfactory picture report”.

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

Doctor Seamus O’Reilly

“As a result of this audit, the Trust has decided to undertake a full review of all radiology reports issued by the Alternate Consultant Radiologist during his time with the Trust.”

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

“All of these images are believed to have been taken at Antrim Area Hospital, Causeway Hospital, Whiteabbey Hospital, Mid Ulster Hospital or Ballymena Health and Care Centre. No other hospitals or health facility is involved.

“We have written to 9,091 patients or parents/guardians, where applicable, to inform them of the review.

“These letters have all been posted first class and should start arriving today and in the next few days. If people don’t receive a letter, it means their images are not included in the review.

“We appreciate that this is a worrying and anxious time for those who receive a letter. I would like to point out that all images relating to the 9,091 patients will be reviewed, but based on our initial audit, we estimate that less than 7% may have experienced a diagnostic delay due to an unsatisfactory image report.

“It does not mean that they will all have been injured as a result, but we will carry out a new clinical evaluation in each of these cases.”

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

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

The review began the week of June 21 and is expected to be completed by the end of October 2021.

The trust said it was carried out by a “qualified and experienced external contractor”.

A dedicated helpline and email address have been set up for anyone who receives a letter and is particularly affected.

The toll-free number 0800 023 4377 has been set up and can be reached from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Friday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday and public holidays. The dedicated email address is [email protected]