RCR/SoR position statement on access to imaging reports

Monday 31 October 2022

From November 1 patients will have access to all medical data through the NHS App. Organisations need to have systems in place to help patients access their data, in particular their radiology reports. Imaging reports are constructed to give clinical teams actionable information to help with the clinical management of their patients. Thought also needs to be given as to how these reports are constructed in the future to ensure clear accurate information is conveyed to clinical colleagues but also with consideration that these will be read by patients.

In addition, while it is welcomed that patients will have rapid access to their imaging reports it is vital that resources are put in place to ensure that all patients have had a chance formally to discuss imaging findings with a member of the clinical team before they can see their report online. This is particularly true for patients with cancer and other urgent findings as set out in Recommendations on alerts and notification of imaging reports.

Radiology departments are not currently equipped to deal with a large volume of patient enquiries related to the content of imaging reports. Healthcare organisations should have systems in place to allow sensitive discussions of imaging reports with appropriate members of the clinical teams.

The primary purpose of a radiology report is to provide interpretation of images and guidance for the referring clinician to aid treatment. When producing a report on a set of images, radiologists should bear in mind that their words may be read by others, including the patient. However this should not cause any significant change to the report itself, and no rider is needed.

Update 02/11/22It has been reported that some GP IT system suppliers are delaying implementation of the new system