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Scans (Waiting Times)

Volume 404: debated on Wednesday 7 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what assessment he has made of current waiting times for (a) CT scans, (b) MRI scans, (c) ultrasound scans and (d) X-ray tests; [109655].(2) what guidance he has issued on the maximum length of time a patient should wait for

(a) a CT scan, (b) an MRI scan, (c) an ultrasound scan, (d) X-ray tests and (e) audiology tests; [109659]

(3) what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of data collection concerning waiting times for (a) CT scans, (b) MRI scans, (c) ultrasound scans and (d) X-ray tests. [109654]

Data are not collected centrally on waiting times for diagnostic scans nor has any central guidance been issued. The length of time that a patient may have to wait for any scan is dependent on their clinical condition. Emergency cases need to be seen immediately. Other cases will be carried out as quickly as possible, dependent on the clinical priority of all patients waiting to be scanned.Where a scan forms part of the diagnostic process for a patient urgently referred with suspected cancer, this will be covered by the target of a maximum two months wait from urgent referral to first treatment, which will be in place for all cancers by the end of 2005.

To increase the capacity of diagnostic services, funding has been made available for the provision of new and replacement scanners. The New Opportunities Fund has provided funding for 57 magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners and the NHS Cancer Plan has provided funding for a further 50 MRI and 50 computed tomography scanners through central purchasing programmes by 2004