Doubling of patient capacity thanks to new CT scanner at North East hospital – Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

The new scanner, which has been operational since the start of April, is the second at the hospital and has therefore doubled the site’s capacity for scanning patients.

Funding of £1.3million from the Community Diagnostic Centres programme has enabled Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust to install a state-of-the-art scanner to increase the type, speed and resolution of the scans that can take place.

Dr Mark Twemlow, a consultant radiologist and Northumbria Healthcare’s joint clinical lead for radiology, said: “The new scanner allows us to do much more advanced scans. It’s essentially two CT scanners in one, with two sources of X-rays, which means it can scan much more quickly, often in just one or two seconds.

“It also allows to scan with much better resolution to see things more clearly and the radiation doses are significantly lower than with older CT scanners.

“For patients, it means a much better experience because it’s quicker and therefore more comfortable, often we don’t need them to hold their breath as much as previously, and the increase in capacity means they should get results more quickly.”

Last October, the Department for Health and Social Care announced that there would be 40 new community diagnostic centres opening in England, with one of four in the North East being at North Tyneside General Hospital.

This means that as well as the scanner being available for Northumbria Healthcare patients, it will also support neighbouring NHS trusts to ensure that patients receive timely scans, helping to reduce waiting lists and backlogs in the region.

Laura Chambers, site lead radiographer at North Tyneside General Hospital, said: “Increasing the number of CT scanners here to two means that we can see an additional 200 to 250 patients a week, but looking further ahead, we plan to be operating from 8am to 8pm, Monday to Sunday, which will enable us to see an extra 350 patients each week by the end of the year.

“Plus, this a top-of-the-range piece of equipment, the first of its kind in the trust, so the range of scans carried out will increase. We are now able to do many more cardiac CT scans and perform more advanced chest imaging.”

Northumbria Healthcare carries out 17,000 to 20,000 diagnostic tests each month across its sites in Northumberland and North Tyneside.

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