Expensive scanning equipment owned by the NHS is not being utilised to its full capacity due to a lack of radiography staff with the qualifications and experience needed to use it, a new report has found.
The TaxPayers' Alliance carried out analysis of how often specialist X-ray equipment such as MRI, CT and PET scanners are used by the UK health service, finding that there is the scope for almost a million (969,000) extra potentially life-saving diagnoses to be made each year if resources are made available to ensure they can be operated more regularly.
Specialist scanners can cost as much as £1.7 million per machine, meaning it is in the interests of the NHS to put them to use as often as possible to ensure they prove to be cost-effective purchases.
However, the report from the TaxPayers' Alliance highlights that the health service could currently be needlessly losing money due to the underutilisation of this equipment. Large sums are being invested in it, but as it is not leading to as many diagnoses as it could, more money is having to be spent on treating patients whose illnesses could have been detected or prevented sooner due to more effective use of the machinery.
The report authors believe that recruiting more radiography staff to ensure that specialist X-ray machines are better used could go some way towards helping the NHS to save the £22 billion it has been challenged to save over the next few years by its chief executive Simon Stevens.
John O'Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, commented: "As hospitals across England struggle with waiting lists for potentially life-saving scans, it is more important than ever that the NHS makes the most efficient use of precious resources already at its disposal.
"If those Trusts that are lagging behind caught up with the NHS average, it would make nearly a million extra treatment and diagnosis procedures available."
Written by Megan Smith
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