Supporting the NHS in Scunthorpe

St Hugh’s Hospital’s MRI scanner – a vital piece of equipment that produces detailed images of the inside of the body – is currently being used in Scunthorpe to help clear a backlog of NHS appointments in North Lincolnshire.

Based at the Ironstone Centre, in West Street, the scanner will remain there for as long as it’s needed.

Our director Ashley Brown explains: “St Hugh’s Hospital has historically had an MRI service two days a week. We increased this to seven days a week during the pandemic in support of the NHS and a backlog at Grimsby’s Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital, which we cleared. We then worked to create a mobile MRI pad in Scunthorpe to clear the NHS backlog in North Lincolnshire.

“St Hugh’s is aware of pressures within other healthcare providers throughout Lincolnshire and Yorkshire because we work in close partnership with the NHS. As I learned of scanning capacity pressure in Scunthorpe, it felt obvious to move our service across to Scunthorpe in support. 

“It will stay there for as long as the service needs it. We are creating mobile scanning capacity that can be flexed as pressure builds in the system from time to time.”

MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging and is a type of scan that uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed images of the inside of a person’s body. It can scan almost any part, including the brain and spinal cord, bones and joints, breasts, the heart and blood vessels, and internal organs like the liver, womb, and prostate gland.

Ashley continued: “MRIs can be used to diagnose a whole raft of conditions, from trauma and cancer to dementia to stroke. As a patient you should endeavour to attend every NHS appointment for your own good, but to also prevent wasted appointments that could otherwise be taken by another patient. Beyond the cost and waste incurred through missed appointments, they add to increased waiting times for other patients in need.

“With our scanner now being situated in Scunthorpe, this will clear backlogs in support of elective work and allow the Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust deliver its core and emergency services more effectively. It forges a new way of work across multiple providers to flexibly move services closer to patients – rather than, for example, asking people living in Scunthorpe to travel to Grimsby.

“This is a stepping-stone towards Community Diagnostic Centres that will transform pathways and the way patients access diagnostic services more effectively. A major benefit is creating equality of access, particularly supporting patients who don’t have the ability to travel easily.

“The NHS is the greatest healthcare system in the world, but it’s under a huge strain. Our core values are centred around providing care. We will do anything we can to appropriately support the wider system and ultimately the local population we serve.”