20% of England’s radiotherapy machines past scrappage date
Posted: 15th March 2016
Posted in: Medical Negligence
An investigation carried out under the Freedom of Information act, has revealed that one in five of the radiotherapy machines being used in hospitals throughout England, are past their scrappage date. The European Society of Radiology recommends that in order to keep up with advances in technology and offer the best treatment possible, machines should not operate for more than 10 years. Older machines can be putting patients at serious risk, according to the report, as lack of precision can be creating serious side effects that could cause irreversible harm.
“not getting the precision of treatment”
The NHS’s financial crisis is being blamed for the problem by a senior cancer consultant, and president of The Royal College of Radiologists, Dr Giles Maskell, described the revelations as “scandalous”. Upon hearing that of the 217 linear accelerator machines being used to treat cancer, 21% were at least 10 years old, Dr Maskell said: “Patients who are being treated on older linear accelerators are not getting the precision of treatment that they would otherwise, so the effect of that is there is more radiation to normal tissue around the tumour and not precisely to the tumour itself. It becomes critical if the tumour is near vital organs”.
Despite the huge cost of replacing outdated machinery, approximately £200 million, radiotherapy still remains a very cost effective way of treating cancer. Typically, a course of radiotherapy costs the NHS around £15,000 per patient, as compared with anything over £60,000 for the latest chemotherapy medication.
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