Nearly 16,000 British patients have to wait more than six weeks to get a CT, ultrasound or MRI scan, as the country's national health system faces mounting financial pressures, according to reports. That number's a nearly four-fold jump of figures from last year.
The Daily Mail reports that May figures show 15,929 patients had to wait longer than six weeks for certain imaging tests, up from 3,495 with long waiting times in the same period last year.
At least 2,152 waited more than six weeks for an MRI scan, up from 374 in 2010, the paper said.
The long wait times have radiologists warning that delayed diagnosis could harm patients' lives.
"Waiting times for diagnostic imaging tests are showing a worrying trend upward," the Royal College of Radiologists said, according to the Guardian.
However, a spokesman for the nation's health department said the median wait time for a diagnostic test has remained stable: in May 2011, it was 1.9 weeks. The year before, it was 1.8 weeks, according to the Mail.
The National Health Service also says 90 percent of patients can get a scan within 18 weeks, the target originally set by the opposition Labor Party, but scrapped by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley.