UK call for regulation of overseas teleradiology

The UK Royal College of Radiologists (RCR) is calling for changes to be made in the way that overseas doctors working for teleradiology companies are regulated when reporting on patients in the UK. All doctors practising in the UK including those working for teleradiology companies must be registered and hold a current licence to practise with the General Medical Council (GMC) and are subject to revalidation. However, increasingly doctors based outside the UK are being employed to report on images of UK patients. The Royal College of Radiologists is concerned that these radiologists are not required to be registered with the GMC, have a licence to practise or be subject to a process of revalidation. Dr Giles Maskell, RCR President said: “The reporting of patients’ images by a local radiologist who can speak directly to other clinicians is the best for patients. Remote reporting or teleradiology can provide a useful alternative when local services are over-stretched. However, patients deserve the reassurance that quality and safety are always the first priority, whoever reports their images. All radiologists who issue reports on UK patients should be subject to revalidation or an equivalent process regardless of where they are based.”

The RCR statement lists 13 Key Principles for the utilisation and practice of safe, high quality teleradiology including:

• A teleradiology service should always have the safety and well-being of the patient as its first priority. Secondary incentives, financial or otherwise, must always be subsidiary.

• Teleradiology is a medical act and should therefore be governed by the same systems that safeguard patients in all other medical acts.

• Teleradiology must form part of an integrated radiology service and be subject to the same governance framework as the rest of the service with all participating radiologists working within a clearly documented quality assurance framework in line with RCR guidance. 

• Patients should be clearly informed if their imaging tests are to be reported by a radiologist working outside the service where the images were acquired.

While The Royal College of Radiologists recognizes there is a role for teleradiology, it believes this should not replace or destabilise the traditional model of an on-site, local radiology service.

Royal College for Radiology

London. UK