Patient to challenge bill for access to scan

By Tim Clarke Tuesday 13 November 2012 Updated: 13/11 14:24

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Buy photos » Andrew Brown is considering taking his case to the Department of Health. (s)

A PATIENT who was told he must stump up £2,000 for a copy of an ultrasound scan of his heart is considering taking his case to the Department of Health.

Andrew Brown wrote to Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust last summer to ask for a copy of a scan which was carried out at Worcestershire Royal Hospital eights year ago.

The trust handed him a written report of the results but said they could not provide him with the echocardiogram as it was held on a disc in a format which could only be read by technology which was now obsolete.

The 49-year-old was told the trust could arrange for equipment to be flown over from America which could read the scan but he would have to pay for this at a cost of £2,000 plus VAT.

Mr Brown refused to pay the amount and wrote to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) in March to complain.

The ICO responded this month by saying the trust had not complied with the Data Protection Act but the Commissioner decided no further regulatory action was required.

Mr Brown - who says he wants a copy of the 2004 scan to compare with one he had taken last year - is now considering complaining to the Department of Health.

He said: "The £2,000 is an audacious request because they are obliged to provide the records anyway.

"We are not in the Dark Ages and according to the guidance of the Department of Health these kind of records should be kept for 20 years."

It is understood the trust has about 200 discs containing similar scans which cannot be read without the correct technology.

"There must be thousands of records from this period which are completely unreadable so this isn't about the trust just spending £2,000 on my case. The justification in spending the money is much wider than that," Mr Brown added.

A trust spokesman said they had contacted other trusts in the country to see if they had the technology to download and transfer the data but to no avail.

"Mr Brown already has a written copy of the echocardiogram report which was supplied through his request for patient records. The trust does have the visual data on file but the cost of generating an image from what is now obsolete technology is not a cost effective use of public money," he added.

Mr Brown has written to Worcester MP Robin Walker who said he would be contacting the trust to discuss the wider implications of his case.

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