Patients in the Midlands are still waiting more than 26 weeks for vital scans at some of the region's hospitals, according to a new survey.

Women at one of Birmingham's lead-ing hospitals face a 120-hour wait for breast cancer biopsies, the Healthcare Commission found.

The Commission, which publishes its report today, compared test results at 153 acute hospitals across England as part of a review of NHS diagnostic services.

None of the 14 Midland trusts high-lighted in the report achieved an excellent rating. Seven were graded as good, six were said to be fair and one - University Hospital of North Staffordshire - was listed as one of the worst 15 trusts in the country.

The review revealed a wide discrepancy in the times patients had to wait for three types of diagnostic tests: X-rays and scans, endoscopies - examinations of the bowel and stomach - and pathology between March and September 2005.

It revealed patients at UHNS waited 668 days - 22 months - for a routine colonoscopy, and 328 days for routine gastroscopy. Patients needing an urgent gastroscopy had to wait 80 days.

At Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals NHS Trust, which was ranked as good in the report, patients waited just 28 days for these tests and two weeks for an urgent endoscopy.

At University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, one of the country's top-performing trusts and a centre of excellence for cancer care, women face an anxious wait of 120 hours to find out whether or not they have breast cancer.

Pathologists at Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals are able to inform patients of their results in 48 hours.

But a UHB spokeswoman explained a breast core biopsy was taken the same day as a mammogram if a mass was detected.

She said: "This is then sent to the lab and examined. The result is known in two days and if it is positive the clinician is informed within 48 hours. Formal reporting takes place within five days, hence the 120 hours figure. n View the full report at

Midland Hospital Trust ratings:

GOOD: Dudley Group of Hospitals NHS Trust, Good Hope Hospital NHS Trust, Hereford Hospitals NHS Trust, Mid Staffordshire General Hospitals NHS Trust, Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals NHS Trust, South Warwickshire General Hospitals University Hospitals, Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust

FAIR: George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust, Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals Trust, University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, Walsall Hospitals NHS Trust, Worcestershire Acute Hospitals

NHS Trust WEAK: University Hospital of North Staffordshire NHS Trust

Healthcare Commission inspectors did not include Birmingham Children's Hospital NHS Trust and the Royal Shrewsbury Hospitals NHS Trust in their report