Radiologists were left “standing around” waiting on patients who failed to turn up to more than half of the scheduled appointments in the Belfast Trust following confusion over the cancellation of appointments, a health union has said.
The Society of Radiographers (SoR) have pinned the blame on the Belfast Trust, who cancelled thousands of appointments due to industrial action.
Belfast Health Trust chief executive Martin Dillon told the BBC that outpatient cancellations meant people due to have cancer diagnostic tests this week had had their appointments postponed.
Leandre Archer, national officer for the Society of Radiographers, said many patients mistakenly failed to turn up for radiography scans despite the union not having taken a decision yet on industrial action.
“Radiographers have not been balloted yet so they are all in work, waiting for patients,” she told the News Letter.
“They are waiting around on patients who have not turned up. It is ridiculous.”
She continued: “At least 50% of patients today did not arrive. This statement has went out and people are looking at that and assuming their appointments have been cancelled, which is understandable.
“There is going to be a massive backlog for this. These are for diagnostic scans for patients in a cancer centre, so these are patients who may have cancer.
“If they (the trust) had wanted to cancel all these appointments they should have told the radiographers to call their patients to let them know. But they didn’t.”
She added: “It is a deliberate ploy to turn patients against health workers.”
In a statement the Belfast Trust said: “The trust was always aware that some staff would be available despite the industrial action.
“However, we could not guarantee the required level of staffing to provide the outpatient appointments.
“The decision to cancel appointments remains the only responsible course of action in the circumstances, otherwise, large number of patients would be attending in circumstances where we could not guarantee they would be provided.”