PATIENTS in Glasgow are facing waits of up to two years for routine osteoporosis scans amid a shortage of radiographers.

The Royal Osteoporosis Society (ROS) said the delays for the bone density checks were “shocking” and could result in patients being left in “debilitating pain” due to a lack of diagnosis and treatment.

The tests, known as DXA scans, use low dose X-rays to examine bone density in patients over 50 who have an increased risk of osteoporosis, and in some higher-risk young people .

The scans are vital to picking up signs of osteoporosis early.

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However, the ROS said it was aware of lengthy backlogs, including some patients referred to Glasgow’s West Ambulatory Care Hospital - located on the site of the former Yorkhill children’s hospital - being told they could wait up to two years.

Craig Jones, chief executive of the Royal Osteoporosis Society, said: “The treatment gap for osteoporosis across the UK is already startlingly wide, but it’s especially shocking to hear that people in Glasgow could be facing a two year wait for a DXA scan.

"Local services like this provide vital support to the communities they serve and can in some cases mean the difference between receiving timely diagnosis and treatment, or debilitating pain.”

HeraldScotland: The West Glasgow Ambulatory Care Hospital, in Glasgow's YorkhillThe West Glasgow Ambulatory Care Hospital, in Glasgow's Yorkhill

The backlog has been exacerbated by Covid, with all non-urgent scans paused for months in 2020, but it is understood that the West Ambulatory Care Hospital has struggled to recruit the radiographers needed to operate DXA scans.

The ROS said it was under the impression that no DXA scans were currently taking place at the site, though health board sources insist that they have not stopped completely anywhere in the region.

Scottish Conservative MSP for Glasgow West, Annie Wells, said she was alerted to the problem - which has affected some of her own constituents - in April.

She said: “The ongoing situation at West Ambulatory Care Hospital is deeply concerning. It is simply not good enough and those living with osteoporosis deserve much better.

“Early intervention by medical specialists is key in the treatment of osteoporosis, helping those living with the condition to avoid unnecessary fractures.

“DXA scans are a vital component in the diagnosis of osteoporosis. However, I remain concerned that, with no credible plan in place to recruit more specialists, those potentially living with this condition across Glasgow will have to wait two years to be assessed for osteoporosis – an unacceptable length of time to wait for a scan.”

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In 2020, researchers based at the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust in England proposed using a "simple, one-stop" algorithm based on medication and clinical risk stratification to prioritise patients waiting for a DXA scan amid mounting backlogs caused by the pandemic

They estimated that it would reduce DXA scan numbers by about 50% "whilst pragmatically ensuring those with the highest clinical need correctly receive treatment without delay".

A spokesman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: "We apologise to any patient who is waiting longer than they would expect for a DXA scan.

"This is a specialist scan and we are recruiting and training additional staff to increase capacity to ensure timely access to this service."