Gateshead Health unveils state-of-the-art MRI facility

An MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan is a remarkable medical imaging technology that allows healthcare professionals to capture detailed pictures of the body’s internal structures using a powerful magnetic field and radio waves. This non-invasive procedure is crucial in investigating and diagnosing various medical conditions, providing valuable insights into the human body’s inner workings.

For a long time, Gateshead Health’s historical reliance on only one MRI scanner has posed significant challenges to the MRI service, especially during scheduled maintenance and with increasing demand for the service.

Recognising the potential risks, Gateshead Health successfully secured capital funding from NHS England in 2022 to address this issue.

With the invaluable support of QE Facilities colleagues, meticulous planning and installation efforts were undertaken to bring a second scanner to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital site.

New MRI Scanner - July 2024
The new MRI scanner officially started operating on 1 July 2024

The fruition of these efforts came in 2023 when Gateshead Health was awarded the funding and subsequently commissioned the new scanner, marking its official opening on 1 July 2024.

This cutting-edge addition to the region’s MRI facilities represents a significant technological leap forward for Gateshead Health. For example, the new MRI scanner can accept upgrades via software packages that enable it to be more efficient and carry out scans in shorter time-frames. Ultimately, this allows the scanner to process more patients, leading to faster and improved healthcare services for the community.

Along with this development, Gateshead Health’s MRI department proactively recruited and trained additional MRI radiographers to supplement the existing team.

This expansion enables the Trust to operate two scanners at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital site effectively alongside the Community Diagnostics Centre MRI scanners, which is due to open in Autumn 2024.

Mike Graham, Director of Operations – Clinical Support and Screening Business Unit, said:

We are thrilled to welcome our new colleagues at this pivotal moment for our service. This strategic upgrade significantly strengthens our position to provide our patients with expedited and reliable service. The expanded patient waiting area now complements our increased capacity, allowing us to offer our patients an enhanced experience. Furthermore, we are better equipped to mitigate the risks associated with machine downtime.

Mike Graham, Director of Operations – Clinical Support and Screening Business Unit

The new scanner will be operational 12 hours a day, seven days a week, while the original scanner will operate during daytime hours from Monday to Friday. Looking ahead, the service plans to expand its operational hours for both scanners to be running during the weekends and evenings in the coming future.