Hundreds of out-of-date X-ray machines leave NHS patients at risk, claims Labour

'Equipment critical to early diagnosis of cancer and treatment of brain injuries at risk of failure'

Monday 11 June 2018 00:23
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X-ray machines past their use-by date could fail patients, according to Labour
X-ray machines past their use-by date could fail patients, according to Labour

The NHS is relying on decades-old medical equipment, often in use long past its replacement date, the Labour party claims.

Officials claim that equipment critical to early diagnosis of cancer and treatment of brain injuries is at risk of failure, posing a threat to critically ill patients around the country.

Freedom of Information research showed that hundreds of pieces of critical machinery are being used even after they are meant to be replaced, such as:

• 892 X-ray machines in use that were more than 10 years old, with 139 past their replacement dates

• 295 ultrasound machines more than 10 years old, with 134 past their replacement dates

• 46 MRI scanners more than 10 years old, with 10 past their replacement dates

• 45 CT scanners more than 10 years old, also with 10 past their replacement dates

• One X-ray machine from 1984 was still in use at a hospital in Leeds, while a 1992 ultrasound machine was being used in Oxford

• In South Tees an ultrasound which should have been replaced in 2001 was still being used, as well as an MRI scanner at the Royal Free in London which should have been replaced in 2007.

Labour says any new funding deal for the NHS will have to make up for years of cuts to capital budgets, which have left hospitals “unable to replace essential equipment and have put patients in danger”.

The party says that in the past four years the government has taken £3.8bn out of NHS capital budgets, leaving a £5.5bn backlog in outstanding maintenance works.

It is calling for the government to allocate the £1.6bn that the Institute for Fiscal Studies says is needed to bring the UK into line with comparable countries for numbers of CT and MRI scanners.

Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, said: “Tory cuts to capital budgets mean we have among the lowest numbers of CT scanners and MRI scanners per head of population in the world. Patients deserve better than this.

“At the last election Labour promised at least an extra £10 billion of capital investment for our NHS. This would allow us to invest in the innovative technologies of the future, the digital support out NHS needs and in renewing our MRI and CT scanners.

“It will be a key test of any new funding settlement for the NHS in the coming weeks that it makes up for years of Tory cuts to capital budgets which have left hospitals unable to replace essential equipment, and have put patients in danger.”

The Department of Health has been contacted for comment.

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