Northern Ireland

Coleraine boy's MRI scan wait leaves family 'in fear' of tumour recurrence

Kerrie and Ewan MacKerracher
Image caption Kerrie MacKerracher said she lives in fear that Ewan's brain tumour could return

A County Londonderry boy who has had two brain tumours removed has been waiting almost two years for a check-up scan, his mother has said.

Ten-year-old Ewan MacKerracher, from Coleraine, was diagnosed with a tumour in 2010, which recurred in 2012.

His mother Kerrie said she was told he would need MRI scans every six months, and that the family "live in fear" that Ewan's tumour could return.

The Belfast Trust said it will be in contact with the family.

'Lost paperwork'

Ewan's last check-up scan was in January 2014 and the family waited almost 12 months without being informed of another before meeting a neurosurgeon in December last year.

"He said we would have a choice of a 9-12 month wait for one with anaesthetic or six months' wait for one without anaesthetic," Mrs MacKerracher said.

Keen to get the scan completed as soon as possible, they chose a non-anaesthetic scan.

But no appointment had been confirmed by June 2014, and the family were told the surgeon was on a three-month sabbatical.

They were then informed in September 2014 that Ewan was being transferred from an adult waiting list to a children's list.

Errors

"All that time he'd been on the adult waiting list and it was then lost," his mother said.

"The radiology department are now saying that there's been some form of lost paperwork between transferring him from the adult waiting list to the children's' waiting list.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption A new MRI scanner was delivered to the Royal Victoria Hospital for Sick Children in September

"It's been a series of errors and problems and nobody can tell us when he's getting a scan.

"It should always have been a routine six-monthly scan. He should have had each of the scans pre-booked."

Ewan said: "Sometimes I do worry that [the tumour] will come back."

Recurrence

Children in Northern Ireland currently have MRI scans at an adult unit.

A new MRI scanner was delivered to the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children in September, with the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust saying it would reduce waiting times, but it is not yet operational.

The Belfast Health and Social Care Trust said it the recommended intervals for follow-up scans was 12-24 months, and that was "endeavouring to provide the best treatment and support" for Ewan.

"We are keen to reassure Ewan's parents that we have followed the recommended intervals for follow up scans in relation to patients with conditions similar to Ewan," a spokesperson said.

The Trust said it will be contacting the family to discuss a forthcoming scan.

Contacting

"These normally take place on a 12 to 24 monthly basis."

The trust added that it would be contacting the family and Ewan's GP shortly to discuss his next scan.

Richard Devlin, of the Brain Tumour Charity, said Ewan's case showed the health system was "failing some patients".

"It is shocking that Ewan and his family have had to endure this delay on top of the trauma of his original diagnosis and brain tumour recurrence," he added.

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