Northern Trust provides update on Radiology Lookback Review

The Northern Trust has provided an update on the Radiology Lookback Review which it is conducting into the work of a locum consultant radiologist who was engaged by the Trust from July 2019 to February 2020.

The review concerns 13,030 radiology images taken in Antrim Area Hospital, Causeway Hospital, Whiteabbey Hospital, Mid Ulster Hospital and the Ballymena Health and Care Centre and which were reported on by this radiologist.

The Trust wrote to 9,091 patients or the parents/guardians, where appropriate, to make them aware of the review, which commenced at the end of June.

Commenting, Dr Seamus O’Reilly, Medical Director at the Northern Trust, and also Chair of the Steering Group for the Lookback Review, said:

“I can confirm that as of Monday 26 July, we have completed the review of 2,434 images, which is almost one fifth of the total.

“Each image is being categorised in one of five levels, with a Level 5 category meaning that no discrepancy has been found up to Level 1, meaning that a major discrepancy has been identified that could have had immediate and significant clinical impact. The Level 2 category also concerns a major discrepancy, with probable clinical impact.

“2,334 of the images reviewed (96 percent of the total so far reviewed) have been categorised as Levels 4 or 5, meaning either no discrepancy or a discrepancy of very doubtful significance. A further 88 images have been categorised as Level 3 which means there was a minor discrepancy but unlikely to have had any impact on the patient’s care or treatment.

“A Clinical Sup-Group meets every Friday to review and discuss those patients whose images have been categorised as Level 1 or Level 2. Some patients whose images have been categorised as Level 3 are also discussed and decisions are made about who may need to be recalled. To date, this group has considered a total of 31 patients, following review of their images.

“Obviously, it is images in Levels 1 and 2 that we are most concerned about. To date, there are 12 Level 1s and 2s (approximately 0.5% of the total number reviewed). Most of these concern CT scans where inaccurate initial reading of the scans could, or is likely to have had an impact on the patient’s clinical treatment and outcome. ”

Dr O’Reilly stressed that the aim is to complete the review as soon as possible and to send out closure letters to those patients where review of their images has indicated no cause for concern.

Continuing Dr O’Reilly said:

“I am determined that we complete this review as quickly as possible and I am pleased to confirm that the independent sector provider has now come on board and we have also secured the services of both retired consultant radiologists and radiologists from other Trusts.”

“Already we have been able to send out closure letters to 1,655 of those patients who received the original letter and that process will continue throughout the review.”

Additional Information

Following review, images are being categorised into one of five Levels as follows:

Level 1: Major Discrepancy (immediate and significant clinical impact)
Level 2: Major Discrepancy (probable clinical impact)
Level 3: Minor Discrepancy (clinical impact unlikely)
Level 4: Minor Discrepancy (either typographic or a discrepancy of very doubtful significance)
Level 5: No Discrepancy

A helpline and dedicated email address was established for anyone who received a letter and was particularly concerned. A freephone telephone number 0800 023 4377 was also set up and can be called from 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday. There is also a dedicated email address:

The Trust is also providing psychological support services throughout the course of the review for any patients who might be particularly anxious.

Breast services have not been impacted and are not part of the review.

Related Links

Radiology Lookback Review further information
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
Northern Trust announces Radiology Lookback Review


30th July 2021

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