BIR response to RightCare Atlas of Variation Diagnostic imaging

The NHS Atlas of Variation in Diagnostic Services, published today, 27 November 2013 by NHS RightCare reveals significant differences in the identification and monitoring of health conditions.

Featuring 69 different maps of England, the NHS Atlas of Diagnostics identifies local variations for a wide range of diagnostic services covering imaging, endoscopy, physiological diagnostics, pathology, and genetics. This shows that patients in certain areas are hundreds of times less likely to be offered some tests than in other parts of the country.

The BIR and its members welcome this important report which is an invaluable addition to the evidence base and seeks to stimulate action to address unwarranted variation.

The BIR has grave concern about the large variations in access times to brain scans for patients presenting with possible stroke and delays in provision of CT scans for some trauma patients. This may mean that patients are not receiving the most appropriate care, with potential worrying variations in outcomes for patients depending on where they live.

Professor Andrew Jones, President of the BIR, said “This report is crucial because it raises awareness of the variation in services across the UK. This is deeply concerning, not only for the patients for themselves but for clinicians and commissioners. It highlights discrepancies in the availability of technology for diagnostic imaging, along with variations in funding and process management. Appropriate imaging resources and the adoption of best practice for all hospitals are required to ensure the NHS is delivering the best possible care to patients. We will work collaboratively with our members to share best practice and to ensure all patients have equity in access to consistent diagnostic services.”

The Atlas is published by Public Health England (PHE), working with NHS Right Care, other organisations and a wide range of expert clinicians. 

Download press release here

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