A new, state-of-the-art MRI scanner – the first of its kind in the UK – is set to revolutionise treatment, care and experience for patients at South Tyneside District Hospital.
The scanner, which signals a major £1.5million investment, uses some of the most sophisticated technology in the world, and will enable doctors to diagnose more diseases and conditions, from cancers to sports injuries, in more parts of the body, more quickly.
It will be up and running this winter, replacing equipment which has been in use since 2004.
The transfer from old to new is expected to start this autumn, but there will be no disruption to the service for patients, as a mobile unit will be brought on site while the necessary building work is carried out.
Dr Richard Cooper, lead consultant for radiology, said: “The new scanner is a very exciting development for local patients.
“It is much more efficient; the image quality it provides is fantastic and results are available much faster.
“It has amazing potential: for example, it will allow the visualisation of tumours in more detail allowing an improvement in their staging, and we are already looking at how we can use it in more fields in the future, such as cardiology.”
Dr Shaz Wahid, South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust’s medical director, added: “Despite the unprecedented financial pressures facing the NHS, our trust is putting major investment into the South Tyneside District Hospital site.
“The acquisition of the new MRI scanner is just one example of our intention to continue to provide local services of the highest quality in South Tyneside.
“In the past year alone, we have opened Haven Court, the £9million centre of excellence for integrated health and social care for older people, and our £1.4million Surgical Centre, which is improving patient experience and access to our surgical services.
“We also hope to start work early in 2018 on a new energy centre, which is expected to cost in excess of £5million.”
The tunnel of South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust’s new scanner will be shorter, wider and better lit.
This will mean that it will be more suitable for claustrophobic patients who previously have had to be referred to an off-site ‘open’ scanner.
The new scanner will have more equipment within the patient table. Once the patient is on the scanner table, less movement will be required if more than one body area is being scanned.
This is particularly important for the comfort and care of patients who are very ill.