PATIENTS were today facing the traumatic prospect of further breast cancer screenings after a probe into hundreds of scans carried out by a Blackpool Victoria Hospital radiologist.
A patient’s breast cancer was picked up two months late – sparking an investigation into other cases.
Now, hospital chiefs have revealed 470 patients’ ultrasound scans have been reviewed since the revelation in November – with 24 of those tests now triggering concern.
Each of those patients has been contacted by Vic bosses in the last 48 hours and have been asked to return to the hospital to be re-assessed.
Today, MPs and cancer campaigners described the situation as “disturbing” while a special phoneline has been set up for anyone affected.
It comes after it emerged the radiologist failed to follow national guidance when reviewing the first patient’s ultrasound scan.
A biopsy should have been carried out at the time, which would have picked up the cancer earlier.
The matter has now been reported to the General Medical Council.
Health chiefs say they believe the chances of any of the 24 patients having breast cancer are ‘small’, but it is ‘important’ they are reassessed.
Extra clinics have been put on at The Vic to accommodate the patients with appointments set to be carried out over the next few days.
Dr Mark O’Donnell, medical director at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We appreciate this will be concerning for the patients who have been asked to attend the hospital for reassessment and we would like to sincerely apologise for any anxiety this may have caused them and their families.
“All of the patients who have been at any possible risk of delayed diagnosis have been contacted by telephone or by hand-delivered letter and we have arranged to see them as quickly as possible.
“We understand other patients may also be worried, however we can assure them if they have not been contacted by the hospital already, they should have no cause for concern.”
Hospital bosses say they were made aware of the first patient’s breast cancer diagnosis in November 2012 and took advice from the British Society of Breast Radiology, to look back at the radiologist’s breast work over a 12-month period.
Each ultrasound was reviewed separately by two senior consultant radiologists.
The radiologist was immediately stopped from doing further breast work as a precaution and left the Trust in March.
Hospital chiefs say the original patient has been made aware of the shock review.
Ursula Van Mann, a Fylde-coast breast cancer campaigner, said: “This is going to be a very worrying time for the people involved, and I have a lot of empathy for them in this situation.
“I just hope this hasn’t put women off attending their scan appointments when they have symptoms and need referrals.
“It is good that this mistake has been picked up and that patients are being reassessed. I sincerely hope no more cases are found.”
The Trust has set up a phone line which will be manned between 9am until 7.30pm today and 10am until 4pm tomorrow and Sunday.
Callers can also leave a voicemail and a member of the breast care team will return their call. The phone number is (01253) 306650.
No-one from the General Medical Council was available for comment.
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