Published on: 14 January 2022

Plans to build a state-of-the-art Integrated Diagnostic Centre have taken another step forward with the breaking of the first ground at South Tyneside District Hospital.

Ken Bremner MBE, Chief Executive of South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust and Richard Evans, Managing Director of Alliance Medical broke the first ground at the site before handing it over to local construction company, Brims Construction.

Trust Chief Executive Ken Bremner, Alliance Medical Managing Director Richard Evans and Brims director Richard Wood.JPG

South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust Chief Executive Ken Bremner MBE, Alliance Medical Managing Director Richard Evans and Brims Construction director Richard Wood on the site of the new Integrated Diagnostic Centre.

The building firm, which is based in Sunderland, won the contract after a competitive tender process and will begin work to create the new £10 million facility in the coming weeks. 

The specialist facility will include world-class MRI and CT scanning equipment along with a PET-CT scanner, which helps to diagnose cancer. This will greatly reduce travel for a number of residents in South Tyneside and Sunderland who currently travel to Newcastle or Middlesbrough if they have suspected cancer. 

The building, which replaces the old nurses’ home that previously stood on the South Tyneside District Hospital site, will be equipped with the latest technology.

It will be fully integrated with the Trust’s digital patient record system, allowing consultants to view and report images in locations including their own homes, helping to speed up reporting times and lead to treatment starting sooner.

Artists impression IDC.jpg

An artist's impression of how the new centre will look once complete, with this view offered from the Ingham Wing.

The investment has been made possible thanks to partnership working with Alliance Medical who have provided mobile diagnostic vans to South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust for over ten years and already provide PET-CT scanning across the entire NHS.

Commenting on the progress, Ken Bremner said: “Breaking the first ground is a pivotal stage in our plans to develop an Integrated Diagnostic Centre.

"This is excellent news for our patients who will be able to access specialist scans much closer to home and have more choice over where they have their treatment.

“Creating this new facility has been a long time in the making and a clear signal that we are committed to developing and investing in our South Tyneside site now and in the coming years.

"This is about creating services that are fit for the future and that provide the very best care to the local communities we serve.

“COVID-19 continues to have a major impact on NHS services and many people are still waiting for treatment.

"While we have made excellent progress in recovering services across the Trust and bringing more people back in for their planned care, we know that the Integrated Diagnostic Centre will massively increase our capacity to care for more patients. 

“This is a major development for local people and we are of course delighted to have a local contractor working on the project and to be further supporting our local economy.”

As the NHS recovers from COVID-19 and begins to tackle the major backlog of patients now waiting for treatment, South Tyneside’s new Integrated Diagnostic Centre will play a pivotal role in reducing waiting lists.

More patients will have access to scans and will have the choice of having their scans at a new purpose built permanent facility, rather than a mobile scanning van.

Patients in Sunderland and Durham will still be able to access scans locally at Sunderland Royal Hospital and Durham Treatment Centre, but have the option of an appointment at South Tyneside District Hospital once the new Integrated Diagnostic Centre is opened.

Richard Wood, Director of Brims Construction said he was delighted to see the project progress.

He added: “The scheme is very important for Brims Construction, we were delighted to be awarded the prestigious project and we look forward to starting on site in the next few weeks.”

The Integrated Diagnostic Centre is part of the Trust’s long-term ambitions and commitment to improving its ageing infrastructure in South Tyneside.

It comes on the back of other investments into facilities at South Tyneside District Hospital, including:

  • A new £2 million Endoscopy unit which opened to patients in September.
  • A new £800,000 outpatient pharmacy located inside the Ingham Wing (including a state-of-the-art robotic dispenser) which opened in October.
  • A new £2.9 million intensive care unit with work due to start this year.