Greater Manchester hospital increases overall MRI capacity by 100% with installation of new suite

Tameside Hospital worked with long-term partner, Canon Medical, to deliver a bespoke solution to the growing demand for diagnostic imaging in the region

With 2.5 million more people in England projected to be living with major illness by 2040[i], increasing diagnostic imaging capacity has never been more important for the 215 NHS Trusts across the UK. Playing a critical role in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions such as cancer, as well as many neurological and heart conditions, the demand for Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) in particular is at an all-time high. However, currently the UK has far fewer MRI scanners than nearly any other comparable country[ii].

To address this increasing demand and help tackle the NHS waiting list, Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust, collaborated with its partner of 20 years, Canon Medical Systems UK, to expand its in-house MRI capacity in a unique way. Utilising last-minute funding awarded to Greater Manchester from the NHS, the hospital leveraged its long-term relationship with Canon Medical to design and deliver a bespoke, purpose-built MRI suite that will serve as a permanent solution for the hospital.

The integrated modular unit, consisting of two modules to accommodate waiting and changing rooms, houses Canon Medical’s Vantage Orian MRI system, a second MRI scanner for the hospital. Replacing a separate external mobile unit situated in the car park, the new unit allows clinical staff to serve in-patients, as well as emergency and outpatients, within the main hospital – something that had previously not been possible.

Jennifer Riley, Cross-sectional (CT/MRI) Service Lead Radiographer at Tameside Hospital, commented, “This wasn’t just a case of procuring MRI equipment to meet increasing demand. Careful consideration needed to be given to where the new system would be housed to meet the needs of both our in-patients and outpatients. Working with Canon Medical, we needed a permanent solution to increase MRI capacity within a very tight timeframe to meet the requirements of our funding. Ensuring accessibility and a positive patient experience, both during and post-installation, was crucial. The new suite needed to feel like part of the existing site without changing the fabric of the building. During construction, we worked hard to ensure minimal disruption to patient services.”

Matthew Kilheeney, Radiology Manager at Tameside Hospital, continued, “We’ve always had a strong partnership and positive experience working with Canon Medical. The team is reliable, responsive, and quick to find a solution to any challenge, and their training, aftersales support and service is second-to-none. At the onset of the pandemic when demand peaked and Covid restrictions were in place, they also provided us with a mobile CT scanner to increase capacity and support social distancing. So, when faced with the challenge of building a whole new suite, we knew we could turn to Canon Medical to help execute the whole project. They helped us roll out an end-to-end solution in under nine months – from sourcing equipment to designing and building the unit to house the MRI system.”

Over many years, Canon Medical has provided the Trust with numerous diagnostic imaging solutions – including two Ultrasound (US) systems, an Ultimax-i Multi-Purpose Fluoroscopy room designed to enhance efficiency by opening up workflow space, and three Aquilion Prime SP  Computed Tomography (CT) scanners. The CT scanners feature Vitrea Advanced Visualization, a modular viewing platform that unifies workflows, enabling greater diagnostic productivity.

Matthew added, “Having a second permanent MRI scanner in-house has given us a 100% guaranteed capacity increase internally. Previously, if our internal MRI scanner had failed, scanning in-patients would have been impossible, so this has removed that single point of failure. As a hospital we need to meet a target of 98% up time across our diagnostic equipment, and thanks to the support from Canon Medical we continue to hit and even exceed that target.”

Increasing diagnostic capacity remains a key priority for the Trust, with plans already underway for the redesign and redevelopment of Tameside Hospital’s Emergency Department, which will include the addition of a third in-house CT scanner – the Canon Medical’s Aquilion Prime SP .