Published on: 11 August 2021
Health and care leaders at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust (STSFT) have today unveiled exciting plans for a new state-of-the-art £10 million Integrated Diagnostic Centre at South Tyneside District Hospital.
For the first time ever, plans for the new facility in South Tyneside also include a PET-CT scanner, meaning patients will no longer need to travel to Newcastle or Middlesbrough if they have a suspected cancer diagnosis. A PET-CT scan is a specialist diagnostic procedure which uses a mildly radioactive drug to show areas of the body where cancer cells may be active.
The Integrated Diagnostic Centre in South Tyneside will include world-class MRI and CT scanning equipment, clinical consultation rooms, as well as a ‘docking’ station for mobile scanners that may be needed in future to cope with the ever rising demand.
Equipped with the latest technology, the new diagnostic centre will be fully integrated to the Trust’s digital patient record systems, allowing consultants to view and report on images in multiple locations, including their own homes. This will mean a much quicker reporting turnaround time so that patients can begin treatment sooner.
The investment has been made possible thanks to partnership working with Alliance Medical who have provided mobile diagnostic vans to STSFT for over ten years and already provide PET-CT scanning across the entire NHS.
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 experience their care from 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 will have the choice of an appointment in South Tyneside once the new Integrated Diagnostic Centre is operational.
The new facility is part of the Trust’s long-term ambitions and commitment to improving its aging infrastructure in South Tyneside. It comes alongside a series of other investments into facilities at South Tyneside District Hospital which includes:
The Trust’s Chief Executive, Ken Bremner MBE, said: “We are very excited about our plans for a new Integrated Diagnostic Centre in South Tyneside. This has been a long time in the making and I hope, once and for all, it gives a very clear signal about our commitment to South Tyneside District Hospital and making sure we provide the very best local services.
“Over the next few years we will see millions invested to bring more state-of-the-art facilities to the local population. The new Integrated Diagnostic Centre is just one part of these plans and means South Tyneside will become one of only three specialist centres in the region to offer PET-CT scanning. This is fantastic news for patients and will mean faster diagnosis and treatment.
“We are only just beginning to really understand the true impact of COVID-19 on the NHS and this development will put us at the forefront of recovery and massively increase our capacity to care for more patients. It is a major development for local people not only in South Tyneside but across Sunderland and North Durham too.”
South Tyneside Council Leader, Cllr Tracey Dixon said: “This is very welcome news for people in South Tyneside and fantastic that we will have such a world-class NHS facility and a new specialist PET-CT scanning service right here on our doorsteps. We welcome the Trust’s ongoing investment into the South Tyneside District Hospital site and look forward to seeing work progress in the months ahead.”
STSFT’s plans have also been welcomed by Sir Liam Donaldson, Chairman of the Integrated Care System across the North East and North Cumbria said: “Healthcare is changing rapidly as technological innovation surges forward. There was a time when state-of-the-art scanners and other equipment were so big and expensive that they had to be concentrated in a small number of places in the country, large distances apart. This development is a wonderful example of how today’s NHS patient quickly gains the benefit of advances in medical science that would once have been like a speck on the distant horizon. South Tyneside’s new Integrated Diagnostic Centre is a cause for celebration for patients, families and NHS staff alike.”
During August members of the public will be able to attend virtual engagement sessions to find out more about the Integrated Diagnostic Centre and other developments at South Tyneside District Hospital. The first of these will take place at 6pm on Thursday 12 August. To find out more, visit Events :: South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust (stsft.nhs.uk)
Work is already underway at South Tyneside District Hospital to prepare the site for future development with the safe demolition of aging buildings being planned for over the summer.
The Trust hopes to receive planning approval for the new Integrated Diagnostic Centre in the autumn. Building work is expected to begin later this year (subject to planning approval) with the new facility set to open to patients towards the end of 2022.