Celebrating the successes of Lancashire and South Cumbria’s Imaging NetworkDate posted: 14th July 2023
The National Diagnostics team has confirmed that Lancashire and South Cumbria’s (LSC) Diagnostic Imaging Network is a ‘Developing’ Network – nine months ahead of the national target of December 2023 – this is a fantastic achievement by colleagues across the network.
The LSC Imaging Network is made up of four provider trusts (Blackpool Teaching Hospitals, East Lancashire Hospitals, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals and University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay). It provides the following imaging scans: Computerised Tomography (CT), Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), X-ray, bone density scanning (DEXA), radionuclide and non-obstetric ultrasound.
During the pandemic in April 2020, 47% patients were waiting over six weeks for their CT scans. This has now reduced to below 1% because the trusts are working extremely hard to ensure patients have better access to diagnostics no matter where they live. The network now offers mobile CT and MRI scanning whereby patients can be scanned quickly and safely in their local community.
As part of its improvements, the Network has seen an increase of 7.5% of scanning activity since April 2022, which has supported elective diagnostic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic. As of 31 March 2023 the Network is delivering 150% CT and 137% MRI scanning activity compared to pre-COVID levels in 2019/20.
Jack Smith, LSC Director for Diagnostics, said: “We have seen a dramatic improvement in patient waiting times for diagnostic imaging tests as a result of the trusts working together, deploying much needed additional scanners and technologies, and offering extended services in the evenings and weekends to increase activity levels. By getting tested more quickly, patients are able to receive more timely care and achieve better health outcomes.
“In addition, by working as a network and sharing good practice and resources, the services are becoming more resilient. More investment is required for additional frontline staff and training, however, if we are to meet the predicted growth in demand for imaging testing in the future.”
Some key improvements of the Imaging Network include:
- Delivering 120,000 extra imaging tests which have been provided through new Community Diagnostic Centres (CDCs) at Westmorland General Hospital, Preston Healthport, Whitegate Drive in Blackpool and Rossendale Primary Health Care Centre. By expanding capacity of the imaging service this means scans are available at more locations across Lancashire and South Cumbria and when patients want them.
- Securing £4.29 million for additional mobile scanners adding flexibility to how and where the Network offers care to its patients. A mobile CT and a mobile MRI scanner are currently based in Central Lancashire and a further mobile MRI scanner in Pennine Lancashire.
- Saving £882,000 from a joint procurement of mobile scanning equipment
- Securing £115,000 from the LSC Cancer Alliance to support a single digital alert system. This means that if a patient has suspected cancer, a critical alert will be flagged to the Imaging Team and these patients will be prioritised for scans.
- Investing in technology including dashboards across the provider trusts which has aided decision making. The Network is also working towards all provider trusts being on the same RIS & PACS system which will help to improve patient care.
- Securing £224,000 for home reporting workstations to support Imaging colleagues to work remotely.
The LSC Imaging Network is also working towards a robust five year radiology workforce recruitment, training and development plan.
This has included supporting advanced career development for radiographers across Lancashire and South Cumbria. The Network has secured £164,000 funding for post-graduate training including radiographer reporting, nuclear medicine and ultrasound. So far seven colleagues have completed this training.
The network has also secured £275,000 capital investment to support state-of-the-art training equipment and bespoke facilities for staff. This has included a new Radiology training and reporting room at Preston Hospital, and North West satellite Imac training room at Blackburn Hospital.