Published on: 13 December 2021

Plans to develop a new state-of-the-art £10 million Integrated Diagnostic Centre at South Tyneside District Hospital have been given the green light by planners.

South Tyneside District Council’s planning committee today approved plans for the specialist facility, which 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 will replace the old nurses’ home 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.

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.

The Trust’s Chief Executive, Ken Bremner MBE, has welcomed the decision, which will see yet more investment go into the South Shields site.

He said: “We are delighted to be able to progress with 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.

“We know that COVID-19 has had 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, not only in South Tyneside but across Sunderland and Durham too and we are excited to forge ahead and bring our plans to life.”

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.

Work has already been carried out to prepare the site for the development, with the demolition of the aging nurses’ home now almost complete.

It is hoped building work will begin on the site in the New Year, with the new facility to open towards the end of 2022.

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 £2.5 million intensive care unit with work due to start next year.