PATIENTS are waiting two weeks longer than they did last year for important ultrasound scans at Worcestershire hospitals, figures show.

The latest NHS England data shows that 850 people were referred for an ultrasound on their pelvis at the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust in June.

On average, those patients had to wait 42 days, from the date of the request to the scan.

This is up from an average 28 day wait in June 2017.

Ultrasound scans are used to detect ovarian cancer, among other illnesses.

Across England, waiting times increased for other ultrasounds, MRI scans on the brain and CT scans on the chest.

Dr Caroline Rubin, vice president for clinical radiology at the Royal College of Radiologists, said trusts were short staffed and under-equipped.

“There are not enough radiographers to do these scans, and equipment is at capacity, so even if we had more staff they wouldn’t have equipment to use,” she explained.

She said that the annual data and the RCR’s own yearly census backed up the monthly figures.

“If you look at our data, you can see that the number of CT and MRI scans that are performed has gone up by about 10 per cent each year.”

Research by the college shows one in 10 CT scanners and nearly a third of MRI scanners in UK hospitals are technically obsolete, while still being used.

On top of this, Dr Rubin says not enough doctors are being trained in radiology and claims more than 10 per cent of consultant radiologist posts are vacant in UK hospitals.

As well as waiting for a test, patients have to wait afterwards for the results.

“This can have a psychological impact on people who may think they have cancer, even if the scan is clear," Dr Rubin said.

She said that while a two week wait for a scan is unlikely to have an adverse affect on a cancer patient, it does delay the overall treatment process.

At Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust patients had a shorter wait for CT scans on their chests and abdomens, longer for kidney and bladder scans and ultrasounds. People generally had X-rays on the same day as they booked the appointment.

At the Conservative party conference, Theresa May announced the plan to build rapid diagnostic centres around the country as part of new cancer strategy.

“The key to boosting your chances of surviving cancer is an early diagnosis,” the Prime Minister said.

“Through our cancer strategy we will increase the early detection rates from one-in-two today to three-in-four by 2028.

“We’ll do it by lowering the age which we screen for bowel cancer from 60 to 50, by investing in the very latest scanners, and by building more rapid diagnosis centres.”