Published on: 23 March 2023
Lifesaving scanners have been craned into place as plans progress at pace to open a new £10 million Integrated Diagnostic Centre at South Tyneside District Hospital.
Two MRI scanners were the first to arrive at the centre, due to open at the start of April.
The MRI equipment has since been joined by two Computerised Tomography (CT) scanners.
Part of an MRI scanner as it was lifted from a truck on to a platform, where it was then pushed into place within the IDC.
The IDC is also set to become home to the Trust’s first permanent PET-CT scanner, expected to arrive in the coming months.
A mobile PET-CT scanner has been visiting the hospital each Saturday since the start of last year and will remain in place until the permanent scanner is in place.
This has meant that patients have been able to have this specialist scan locally rather than travel to Newcastle or Middlesbrough as they have in the past.
A PET-CT scan uses a mildly radioactive drug to show up areas of the body where cells are more active than normal and supports earlier cancer diagnosis.
The Integrated Diagnostic Centre will also feature 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. This will allow consultants to view images in multiple locations, including their own homes.
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.
The centre has been built by Sunderland based Brims Construction.
As the NHS continues to tackle the major backlog of patients now waiting for treatment, South Tyneside’s new Integrated Diagnostic Centre will ensure that patients can access a range of scans and experience their care from the new purpose-built, permanent facility.
Trust Chief Executive, Ken Bremner MBE said:
"We are really excited to reach this next crucial stage in this fantastic project.
"The IDC will make a huge difference to our patients. Not only is it a brand new world-class facility that has latest technology, but it has been created with the future in mind, so there is room for the service to expand in the years ahead.
"The fact that this will see the first permanent PET-CT scanner set up in our area is also a huge step forward for us and means we can offer them that appointment much closer to home than would otherwise have been possible.
"We know the demand for diagnostic tests and scans is growing year on year. The centre will help us increase capacity so many patients may not have to wait as long for their scan.
"Our colleagues and visitors will have seen the project underway since last year and we are very much looking forward to welcoming patients through our doors soon.”
Once rested onto the platform, the part was then pushed into its new home within the centre.
Richard Evans, MD of Alliance Medical, added:
"We’ve been supporting the Trust with its imaging for over ten years, so it’s really exciting to be working with them on our most recent diagnostic centre.
"At Alliance Medical it’s vitally important to us to tackle the backlog of patients waiting for diagnostic imaging.
"This new integrated diagnostic centre is not only increasing capacity, but we’ve invested in the latest scanning technology, too.
"Patients can now access a range of high-quality scans when they need them in their local community. We are extremely proud of the work we are doing at South Tyneside and look forward to delivering scans to patients from April."