South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust (STSFT) gave a presentation on developments that will benefit patients across its area, as well as the North East.
The update came during a meeting of South Tyneside’s Health and Wellbeing Board, which includes representatives from the council, NHS and voluntary and community sector.
The investment would include a partnership between the trust and Alliance Medical (AM), with the facility providing a PET-CT scanner capable of pinpointing cancer cells and saving patients a journey to hospitals in Middlesbrough or Newcastle.
AM, which have provided mobile diagnostic vans to STSFT and previous trusts for more than 10 years alongside holding the national contract for PET-CT scanning, will front the capital cost of the building and purchasing scanning equipment.
It is understood that AM would provide diagnostic services at the new facility for an agreed time-frame of more than 10 years with the trust paying a fee ‘per scan.’
The arrangement is seen as cost-effective for the NHS and the building would be owned by the trust at the end of the agreed time-frame.
Subject to planning approval, work is expected to begin on the facility later this year with a planned opening towards the end of 2022.
Other key developments at the South Tyneside District Hospital site include:
:: A new £2million endoscopy unit – a self-contained facility where patients are admitted, treated and discharged without attending any other department in the hospital.
:: A new £2.5million six-bed intensive care unit (with building work expected to begin in coming months).
:: A new £800,000 outpatient pharmacy located inside the hospital’s main Ingham Wing, including a state-of-the-art ‘robotic dispenser.’
The projects were welcomed by health partners at a Health and Wellbeing Board, which was held at South Shields Town Hall on September 22.
Councillor Tracey Dixon, leader of South Tyneside Council and chair of the panel, said the planned diagnostic centre would be a “fantastic asset.”
“This is a massive investment in our South Tyneside Hospital site as well as the other investments that are ongoing and a huge asset to the residents of the borough of South Tyneside but also within the region,” she said.
Matt Brown, executive director of operations at NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), added the new diagnostic centre would have a positive impact on travel for patients.
“When we talk about service changes, one of the first things that people often look to discuss is travel and the impact on travel,” he said.
“It’s important to make the point that the vast majority of travel with hospital services is in outpatient and diagnostics, so this is really critical in terms of positively impacting on people’s travel experiences.
“The second thing is the intensive care unit, intensive care and critical care is really a key dependency for the vast majority of services that we have, emergency services in particular.
“So the fact that there’s big investment there is a really good sign for the future.”
Tom Hall, South Tyneside’s director of public health, said the investment plans would have a positive impact from a “health inequalities perspective” – making it easier for patients to access the care and support they need.
And Dr Matthew Walmsley, GP and chair of South Tyneside CCG, added the diagnostic centre would boost capacity while providing “stability of service” for patients.
Councillor Anne Hetherington, cabinet member for independence and wellbeing, said the investment into the diagnostic centre would “strengthen the offer to residents.”
“Here we are at the back end of 2021 and hopefully we will have it in 2022 so I think that’s exciting for South Tyneside,” she added.
South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust has run a series of engagement sessions as it takes on the views of residents, community groups and staff as the proposals have come together.