Northumbria NHS Trust gets national praise for success in cutting waiting times for radiology patients
Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has been praised in a national report for its work to reduce radiology waiting times for patients.
The report by the Getting It Right First Time (GIRFT) programme examines ways of meeting the ever-increasing demand on radiology units in England within the constraints of Covid-19.
A recent review of diagnostic services commissioned by NHS England and NHS Improvement – called for an urgent increase in diagnostic provision, including the creation of community diagnostic hubs, or ‘one- stop shops’ away from hospitals.
This aligns with recommendations in the GIRFT report, which identifies ways of maximising existing capacity and planning service expansion.
During the pandemic, trusts adapted quickly to enable separate scanning for patients with proven or suspected coronavirus.
This separation can now be developed to create sites for ‘hot’ urgent work and ‘cold’ pre-booked appointments to help prevent last-minute cancellations and allow patients to receive all the imaging they need in a single visit, close to their homes.
Northumbria Healthcare is highlighted in the report for exactly this; transforming the speed with which it can offer radiology appointments by having the imaging suite at The Northumbria hospital for urgent (‘hot’) scans.
This has not only benefited emergency patients, but has also led to an improved service for outpatients booked for scans at the trust’s ‘cold’ sites at its general and community hospitals.
Reducing waiting times for radiology has also contributed to a trust-wide reduction in the length of time emergency patients stay in hospital on average, down from 5.1 days in 2014/15 to 3.5 days in 2019/20.
Dr Rahul Dharmadhikari, consultant radiologist at Northumbria Healthcare, said: “Ensuring all our patients have timely access to diagnostic tests and scans is one of our top priorities and we are delighted that the benefits we’re delivering for our patients through our model of care has been praised nationally.
“Our state-of-the-art facilities at our Northumbria hospital enable our emergency patients to have vital tests and scans around the clock which means treatment can start earlier, and often patients being able to go home sooner.
“This, in turn, improves the service we’re able to provide for our patients attending our general and community hospitals for planned tests or scans by ensuring they go-ahead as arranged and are not affected by emergency patients.”