£10m investment plan at South Tyneside hospital unveiled

Health chiefs have unveiled plans for a new state-of-the-art £10m integrated diagnostic centre at South Tyneside District Hospital.

By Tom Patterson
Wednesday, 11th August 2021, 12:01 am
Hospital Trust chief executive Ken Bremner
Hospital Trust chief executive Ken Bremner

South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust (STSFT) says the plans include a PET-CT scanner – meaning patients will no longer need to travel to Newcastle or Teesside if they have a suspected cancer diagnosis.

The new centre will also include MRI and CT scanning equipment, clinical consultation rooms and a ‘docking’ station for mobile scanners that may be needed in future to cope with the ever rising demand.

Hospital bosses say the new centre will be fully integrated to the Trust’s digital patient record systems, allowing consultants to view and report on images in

How the new centre will look

multiple locations and this will mean a much quicker reporting turnaround times so 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.

The plan comes as the NHS recovers from COVID-19 and begins to tackle the major backlog of patients now waiting for treatment and hospital bosses see the new centre playing a pivotal role in reducing waiting lists.

The Trust say more patients will have access to scans at the 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 centre is operational.

The Trust’s chief executive, Ken Bremner, 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 in state-of-the-art facilities and the new 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.”

He added” “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.”

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.”

Jarrow MP Kate Osborne, said: “It is welcome news that the Trust have decided to invest into South Tyneside District Hospital by opening a new state-of-the-art Integrated Diagnostic Centre at the site.

"For residents in the Jarrow constituency, this will hopefully mean faster appointments, faster diagnosis, and faster treatment, and will hopefully help tackle the huge backlog of patients awaiting treatment coming out of the coronavirus pandemic. I will take great interest in keeping up to date with the progress of this centre over the coming months.’’

The plans have also been welcomed by Sir Liam Donaldson, chairman of the Integrated Care System across the North East and North Cumbria.

He 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.

South Tyneside’s new Integrated Diagnostic Centre is a cause for celebration for patients, families and NHS staff alike.”

The Trust says the new centre is part of it’s long-term ambitions and commitment to improving its aging infrastructure in South Tyneside.

Other investments at South Tyneside District Hospital include:

*A new £2m Endoscopy Unit now nearing completion, which will open to patients this summer

*A new £800,000 outpatient pharmacy to be located inside the main Ingham Wing – which will include a state-of-the-art robotic dispenser – and which is set to open later this year.

*A new £2.5m intensive care unit in South Tyneside with building work expected to begin later this year.

During August members of the public are being invited to take part in a series of 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 August 12.

To find out more, go to www.stsft.nhs.uk/events.

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 is hoping 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.