Investigation over MRI scanner

A MOBILE MRI scanner, which visited Ipswich three times, has been the subject of a thorough investigation by health chiefs.Long waits for results and the poor quality of some of these forced bosses at the Strategic Health Authority to launch a top-level review.

A MOBILE MRI scanner, which visited Ipswich three times, has been the subject of a thorough investigation by health chiefs.

Long waits for results and the poor quality of some of these forced bosses at the Strategic Health Authority to launch a top-level review.

The scanner, which visits hospitals around the region for a few weeks at a time, is a Department of Health initiative designed to reduce waiting times.

It is usually sited in hospital car parks and is used by patients with a wide variety of conditions from back pain to tumours.

However, the scheme experienced several problems in its first few months.

A spokesman for the Strategic Health Authority said: "There were teething problems with it which raised some concerns.

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"Some patients were waiting up to nine weeks for reports back on their results but the contract we had with the company who provide the scanner said that it should be no more than four weeks.

"There were also concerns about the quality of some of the reports which meant that for a very small number of patients the reports going back might not have been accurate."

The spokesman stressed that only a small number of patients that were affected.

He said: "Over the summer it scanned over 1,000 patients at hospitals around the region, out of that we found seven cases where we were concerned about the accuracy of reporting.

"Obviously even one is too many which is why we've looked very carefully at how we can work with the providers to improve the service."

The SHA have now implemented a number of measures designed to ensure all results are thoroughly checked, and have appointed Professor Adrian Dickson, one of the world's leading experts on radiology, to oversee the scheme.

The scanner, which produces detailed 3D images of organs and bones, visited Ipswich Hospital in October and December.

Jan Rowsell, spokeswoman the hospital, said: "We welcome the use of the scanner as it means people are seen much more quickly and significantly reduces waiting lists.

"It's inevitable and understandable that when you have a new service there's going to be minor teething problems.

"Most of these related to the speed at which results came back but no-one's treatment was compromised while it was in Ipswich."

The scanner is currently based at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. There are no plans for it to return to Ipswich in the near future.

What do you think of the mobile scanner? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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