GWENT’S health board has “significantly improved” the way it delivers radiology services, a watchdog has said.

An Audit Wales report says Aneurin Bevan University Health Board has made “good progress” to address recommendations made in 2017.

A report in 2017 warned the health board “faced risks” in meeting demand for radiology services, highlighting how its ability to manage demand was impacted by staffing challenges, while waiting and reporting turnaround times needed improvement.

The report also highlighted ‘weaknesses’ in strategic and financial planning.

However a new report says that improvements have been made.

It praises “a strong leadership team” within the department, which has helped to drive forward “innovative solutions and improvements” to meet increasing demand.

The new Grange University Hospital has helped the health board make progress, resulting in increased radiology equipment and imaging capacity, Audit Wales said.

Changes to staff working patterns and increased radiology operating hours have also improved the sustainability of imaging services, the report said.

Challenges remain in recruiting radiologists, but the health board has helped address this with advanced radiographer practitioner roles.

The Audit Wales report concludes: “The health board has significantly improved the way it plans and delivers radiology services through strong leadership and using demand and capacity modelling to identify and implement solutions to respond to increasing demand and changes to service delivery and patient pathways.”

However it adds there is a new risk, resulting from the impact of Covid-19, that there is an unknown level of ‘pent-up’ demand as a result of patients having treatment delayed or not visiting their GP during the pandemic.

“As wider services now start to recover from the pandemic, suppressed demand as a result of delayed access to treatment, however, has the potential to create challenges for radiology services,” the report adds.