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New MRI scanner ‘fabulous’ first for North East NHS

Friday, 04 July, 2014
New MRI scanner ‘fabulous’ first for North East NHS

A new £1million MRI scanner which is the first of its kind in the region’s NHS will be officially unveiled at North Tyneside General Hospital today (Friday 10 January 2014).

Fabulous Flournoy, player coach at Newcastle Eagles, and Alan Campbell, MP for Tynemouth, will open the new state-of-the-art MRI facility which will be used to scan almost any part of the body and diagnose neurological diseases, cancers, damage caused by sports or other injuries, as well as degenerative conditions such as arthritis.

Providing the latest diagnostic technology available anywhere in the world, the high quality 3D imaging and fast scanning rate means around 7,000 North East patients a year will be diagnosed and treated much quicker. The new MRI diagnostic service, provided and operated by InHealth, will be available seven days a week at North Tyneside General Hospital.

The new MRI scanner, manufactured by GE Healthcare, is the first of its kind in the North East NHS to provide a 40 per cent wider area for patients to lie down, helping to reduce the feeling of claustrophobia that can often come with a scan and make the procedure much less daunting for patients. The nearest other NHS facilities are in Yorkshire.

Based in the newly-refurbished MRI Centre at North Tyneside General Hospital, the MRI scanner represents a £1.5million investment. It forms a key part of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust’s commitment to develop services at its general hospital sites which will become centres of excellence for diagnostics, outpatients and planned procedures when the Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital opens in 2015.

Dr Mark Twemlow, consultant radiologist at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are delighted to unveil our fantastic new MRI facility right here in North Tyneside which will give patients access to some of the very best diagnostic equipment in the world, let alone the NHS. The wider area for patients to lie down makes such a difference, reducing the sense of claustrophobia and improving the overall experience of care.

“The high quality 3D imaging also gives us a much more accurate picture of what is going on inside the body which ultimately means we can diagnose and treat our patients sooner.

“By opening our MRI unit seven days a week, our patients will have much improved access for their diagnostic tests – even on weekends.”

Alan Campbell, MP for Tynemouth, said: “I am honoured to open the new MRI centre and delighted to see such investment in North Tyneside General Hospital by Northumbria Healthcare.

“It is fantastic to have such a facility in the borough to enable residents to have their scan locally, seven days a week, and the fact that the new scanner will make people’s experiences even better is excellent news.”

Fabulous Flournoy, player coach at Newcastle Eagles basketball club, said: “As part of our partnership working with Northumbria Healthcare, I am delighted to open the new MRI Centre at North Tyneside General Hospital.

“As a professional sports player I often see injuries which need quick diagnosis and I am very impressed with the new facilities here and the significant investment going into the local NHS. I’ll certainly know where to come next time any of my team are injured on court!”

Patients are given the option to wear headphones while using the scanner and in the spring, new technology will be added to the scanner to improve patients’ experiences even further by reducing the noise of being scanned.

Richard Bradford, CEO of InHealth, said: “We are delighted to launch this new MRI scanner today and to be taking the next step forward in our successful partnership with Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. We look forward to continuing our work with the Trust to deliver the very best diagnostic services for local patients in North Tyneside.”

To give patients and GPs greater flexibility, the MRI scanner is currently open 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday and on Saturday mornings.

Susan first to experience new MRI scanner – on a Saturday

Susan Middleton, one of the patients who has already benefited from the new scanner, is full of praise for the service.

Susan, from Battle Hill, had an MRI scan in order to be able to have a closer look at her right knee which she injured a few months ago.

Susan had her scan on a Saturday morning, just two days after she had been seen by the doctor specialising in orthopaedics.

Since the injury, Susan, 44, had been receiving physiotherapy and it was the physiotherapist who referred her for closer examination when her knee was not showing signs of improvement.

Susan is very impressed by her treatment – all of which she received at North Tyneside General Hospital.

The mother-of-two said: “The scan was fantastic and not frightening at all. The staff were brilliant, they explained everything and put me at ease.

“It was so comfortable, airey, light and there so much space in the scanner.

“It was so much better than a scan I had a few years ago where the hole was small and it was noisy.

“My whole experience of treatment has been really, really good and to be able to have my scan so quickly, and on a Saturday, was amazing and beyond my expectations.”