Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Critical Error

Last night saw the broadcast of BBC Frontline Scotland's documentary Critical Error: the Lisa Norris Story about the maladministration of radiotherapy in cancer treatment.

It "discovered that there are now wider questions about the delivery of radiotherapy treatment in Britain".

According to a report into an incident at one hospital, radiotherapy planners were working in highly pressurised conditions and, consequently, routine checking procedures were compromised. Dosages must be correct and correspond to the individual patient's treatment plan. But it was found the therapists were so rushed that on occasions few checks were carried out before treatment began.

Other cancer experts believe poor working conditions are not all that is wrong with radiotherapy in Britain. A former head of cancer treatment at the World Health Organisation stated that some patients are being given radiation over too short a time period in order to save resources, and to meet waiting times (or should we say government targets?).

We have written before about the crisis in radiotherapy in the UK NHS. A shortage of machines and an even larger shortage of staff. No surprise then that mistakes happen.

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