MRI scanner

State-of-the-art scanner at rural Hexham Hospital officially opens

A £1.5m state-of-the-art facility was officially opened last week at Northumbria Healthcare NHS FT’s rural hospital by their local MP.

Guy Opperman MP unveiled a plaque at Hexham General Hospital to mark the MRI scanner. It represents the latest development in an important partnership between Northumbria Healthcare NHS FT and InHealth, a specialist diagnostic provider.

Since opening, the service is able to see around 300 patients every month for key diagnostic scans, including around 25 cardiac patients per month undergoing specialised scans and 15 arthrograms (high-tech imaging for musculoskeletal conditions).

The machine has been in operation for more than 18 months now, with the original plans for an opening ceremony delayed due to the pandemic.

The hospital operates three days a week and serves a large rural hinterland in the west of Northumberland, meaning timely access to the latest world-class technology much closer to home for many. This is not just in Northumbria Healthcare’s catchment, but across a wider, fairly remote area with limited access to MRI facilities.

Dr Rahul Dharmadhikari, Radiology Consultant, and Director of the Clinical Support and Cancer Services Business Unit at Northumbria Healthcare, said: “Patients undergoing these scans may be nervous both about the procedure itself and what the results mean for them and their loved ones, so it’s important that these diagnostic tests take place as quickly as possible.

“By having this facility at Hexham, in addition to the three scanners at our other sites, it means that a large number of patients can now access this service much closer to home, which can help to make them feel more comfortable.

“Quick and accurate diagnostic testing so that we can start the right treatment as soon as possible is crucial to us as clinicians in ensuring we provide our patients with the high-quality care that they expect from us at Northumbria, and which the Hexham radiology team have continued to deliver despite recent challenges.”

The scanner at Hexham, which replaced a previous mobile unit, represents the latest development in a more-than-15-year partnership between Northumbria Healthcare and InHealth (a specialist diagnostic provider), which has seen scanners already installed at the trust’s North Tyneside, Wansbeck and Northumbria hospitals.

Geoff Searle, InHealth’s CEO, said: “We’re really pleased to be able to formally mark the opening of the MRI facility at Hexham, a £1.5million investment which is just the latest step in our long-standing and fruitful relationship with Northumbria Healthcare.

“We hope that this partnership continues well into the future, with valuable collaboration and learning that ultimately improves patient care and our ability to make healthcare better, together.”

The new facility has resulted in a greatly improved use of space, better patient flow, better staff facilities and a more joined-up approach to diagnostic imaging at Hexham.

The dedicated unit was created following the conversion of the existing records room and small offices. It now includes a new shared reception desk, examination room, equipment room, control room, naturally lit cannulation space with sub-wait and changing room, and an assisted toilet facility.

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