Weston General Hospital halts breast cancer scans due to staff holiday

PUBLISHED: 06:59 10 November 2017

Weston General Hospital.

Weston General Hospital.

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Breast cancer scans at Weston General Hospital have been postponed for two-and-a-half weeks - because no-one on the site can operate the machines.

Staff holidays mean Weston Area Health NHS Trust (WAHT) must send patients to Bristol for tests, or else they face a longer wait than usual for an appointment closer to home.

One affected patient, who asked to remain anonymous, said it is ‘totally 
unacceptable’ that the hospital cannot cover staff absences sufficiently to provide breast cancer scans in a town as large as Weston.

She said: “It’s shocking – it is the trust’s responsibility to provide care.

“How can nobody be available? How can surgeons work without people to do certain scans?

“It’s a sorry state of affairs for a hospital.”

The patient, who lives in Burnham, said it was not fair to force people to make a 60-mile round trip to Bristol for a scan which ought to be available much closer to home.

She has made an official complaint to the trust.

WAHT says the unit will be back in operation on November 22.

A trust spokesman said: “We fully understand the patient’s feelings and concerns, and we’re sorry that she is upset.

“This temporary change only affects those patients 
who are newly-referred to the service and is for a short two-and-a-half-week period, though we realise how unsettling this can be for anyone affected.

“Breast radiology is a small specialised service and despite our best efforts we were unable to find locum cover due to a national shortage of radiologists.

“In this particular instance we are referring the lady to Bristol so she can get the scan she needs and won’t have an unnecessary wait.

“Patients needing urgent scans have been referred by their GP to North Bristol as a temporary measure.”

The patient, who used to work for the NHS as a nurse lecturer, said it is not the fault of Weston General Hospital staff that the cover has not been provided.

She said: “I understand they are short-staffed and I have sympathy for them. But I’m sat here waiting to hear if there is anything wrong.

“I think staff are 
overworked and undervalued but now the hospital has a machine it can’t use.”

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