'Excellent news' as new South Tyneside and Sunderland cancer diagnostic centre is approved

Plans for a state-of-the-art Integrated Diagnostic Centre at South Tyneside District Hospital have been given the green light by councillors.

An artist’s impression of Integrated Diagnostic Centre
An artist’s impression of Integrated Diagnostic Centre

South Tyneside Council’s planning committee has 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 aims to greatly reduce travel for residents in South Tyneside and Sunderland who currently travel to Newcastle or Middlesbrough if they have suspected cancer.

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The £10 million centre, which will replace the old nurses’ home on the South Tyneside District Hospital site, will be equipped with the latest technology.

South Tyneside hospital boss Ken Bremner.

It will also 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 leading to treatment starting sooner.

Ken Bremner, the chief executive of South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, said: “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.

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“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.

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“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.

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“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 Integrated Diagnostic Centre will play a pivotal role in reducing waiting lists.

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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 at their local hospitals but have the option of an appointment at South Tyneside District Hospital once the new Integrated Diagnostic Centre is open.

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At a planning committee meeting to decide the planning application on Monday, councillors voted unanimously to approve the diagnostic centre plans.

Councillor Eileen Leask said the plans were “absolutely fantastic.”

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Work has already been carried out to prepare the site for the development with the demolition of the ageing 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.