HUNDREDS of hospital patients across Dorset have been forced to wait weeks to have important scans, with many having to wait almost a month.

Latest figures show that average wait times for MRI scans and ultrasounds have increased considerably compared with the same period last year.

At the Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals Trust 210 people were referred for an MRI scan, used to detect brain cancers as well as other illnesses, in June this year. On average, those patients had to wait for 18 days from the date of the request to the scan, compared with an average of 10 days in June 2017.

Whereas at Poole Hospital 165 people were referred for ultrasounds on their kidney and bladder, each having to wait on average for 30 days during the same month. This is up from a 17 day wait in June last year.

Mandy Tanner, radiology general manager at Poole Hospital, said: “The national target for all non-urgent imaging is six weeks and Poole Hospital is currently meeting this standard.

“It is recognised that there are workforce challenges across the NHS, despite this we continue to provide a safe, effective, high-quality service for our patients.”

Across the country, average waiting times have increased for key NHS tests, including 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 said.

The annual data and the college’s own yearly census backed up the monthly figures, she said.

“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 carried out by the college shows one in ten CT scanners and nearly a third of MRI scanners in UK hospitals are technically obsolete.