Kettering Hospital has purchased a £1m new magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner to improve care for the 12,500 local people who need these scans each year.
Work to extend the existing MRI department to accommodate the new scanner will begin next week (Monday, June 9) and it is set to be installed and be up and running for patients by November.
MRI scanners use powerful magnets to take extremely detailed digital pictures of the inside of the human body. They are used to diagnose a wide variety of medical conditions including cancers, stroke, and damage to soft tissues and joints – such as sporting injuries or long term chronic problems.
The hospital currently has one MRI scanner of its own and hires a mobile scanner to fulfil the rest of its workload.
KGH consultant radiologist Grace Goh said: “Modern scanners are constantly being improved so the new machine will enable us to take better pictures and also provide the scans in new ways that improve the patient experience.
“The newer scanners are faster, sharper and clearer, they take more pictures and have improved software programmes for making sense of the information they record.
“For clinicians it means that, in some cases, we may be able to identify problems – such as stroke or cancer – at an earlier stage.
“It will also mean that – for the first time – we can do full body scans which in some cases will mean less of a need for other scans, such as x-rays, and repeat visits to the hospital.”
Radiology Manager Tracy Reid said: “The MRI scan experience for patient involves lying still inside a tube while the pictures are taken.
“Some people can find this claustrophobic but the new scanner has a wider bore and special lighting system that will make this feel much more comfortable and less restrictive.”
The second MRI scanner will be located alongside the existing one in a purpose-built extension close to the main reception at the hospital.
Building work will take about 18 weeks and involve establishing a small compound between the A&E department and main reception. Access for ambulances will be maintained and pick up and drop off points for patients near main reception will continue to be in use. A traffic marshal will ensure that vehicle flow is maintained. Pedestrian access to the front of the hospital will not be affected.
The new suite will also include a bigger waiting area for patients attending for a scan which will include toilet facilities and a private pre-scan interview room. It will provide better facilities than the mobile unit which is currently based at Nene Park Outpatients Department. In the long term the Trust will also save money because the mobile scanner costs just under £500,000 per year to rent.