New £3m life-saving diagnostic equipment up and running at NDDH

North Devon Gazette

Patients in North Devon now have access to some of the very latest diagnostic equipment in the UK, as two new CT scanners open at North Devon District Hospital (NDDH) in Barnstaple.

£3m has been invested in the project, which includes £2.3m of Government funding. The Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust has used the funding to build a scanning suite, replacing an old CT scanner and installing a second CT scanner, and to provide the necessary infrastructure for the Trust.

The scanners will produce highly detailed images, helping staff diagnose and recommend the best treatment for injuries and diseases, such as cancer.

They will also increase the Trust’s capacity to provide more specialist imaging, including cardiac CT (heart imaging), pneumocolons (bowel imaging) and biopsies (taking small tissue samples).

Having two CT scanners reduces the need for mobile scanners that have been used over the past couple of years to perform these important diagnostic tests. The state-of-the-art equipment is also more accurate and quicker – which will also help the Trust to see more patients.

John Palmer, Interim Chief Operating Officer at Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust and the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, said: “CT scanners are a vital piece of equipment, and we are really pleased to have some of the newest equipment in the whole of the UK right here in Northern Devon.

“The new technology will mean we can do scans more quickly, and therefore see more patients than we could before. Our priority is to get services back up to pre-Covid levels, and these scanners will be instrumental in supporting our efforts."

Dr Sarah Johnson, Consultant Radiologist and Associate Medical Director at Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “I am absolutely thrilled that both scanners are now up and running, which will help us provide better and quicker care to our patients.

“Our team have done a fantastic job to create an environment that supports an excellent patient experience. Some people can feel nervous or anxious about having a CT scan, and the team have made the space feel light and airy, and as welcoming as possible.”

The scanning rooms feature relaxing murals of local landscapes – Tarr Steps and Woolacombe Beach. There are special light panels in the ceiling to provide a little distraction, and there are new changing facilities.

The £3m CT scanner investment at NDDH is part of a £10m programme of work to upgrade diagnostic equipment across the Trust, which included the upgrade of the MRI scanner at NDDH in December 2020.

The Trust is also phasing out analogue x-ray machines and replacing with new, digital x-ray machines over the next year. New ultrasound machines are being invested in, which opens up the potential for some ultrasound lists to take place at community sites, where staffing allows.

As much normal NHS work as possible has continued throughout the pandemic, including emergency care and urgent cancer care. However, despite the best efforts of hardworking NHS staff, the pressure on staff, beds and equipment, combined with the enhanced infection prevention and control measures necessary to keep people safe, disrupted non-urgent care and meant that many people have had to wait longer for tests than they usually would.

The new diagnostic equipment at NDDH will help the Trust address its waiting lists.