The NHS in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG) will be able to carry out more diagnostic tests for local people after signing a new 12 month contract with UK Biobank – a large-scale biomedical database and research resource.
On 7 December, University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust (UHBW) and North Bristol NHS Trust (NBT) joined together to provide up to 150 MRI scans per week for the NHS at UK Biobank’s Filton facility, representing a 15% increase in local diagnostic capacity. The extra capacity comes at a time when hospital services have been significantly impacted as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
This extra capacity will focus on less complex scanning, but include specialities such as musculoskeletal and neurological scanning.
The leasing of the Filton imaging assessment centre by the NHS has been achieved through close partnership working between the CCG, UHBW and NBT and will be run in partnership by local staff from both hospital trusts.
Robert Woolley, who is University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust Chief Executive and is overseeing a programme to ensure delivery of rapid and timely diagnostic services for BNSSG, said:
“This is welcome news and a result of the fantastic collaboration between staff working together for the benefit of local people.
“The coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on our existing scanning capacity and while we have been working hard to prioritise people most in need, this extra resource will help reduce waiting times for scans.
“We know that early diagnosis is imperative for the successful treatment of many conditions, and therefore continue to remind people that NHS services are available if you have a health concern that you are worried about.”
Gareth Gregory, Chief Finance Officer for UK Biobank, said:
“We are delighted that our new imaging facility will be used to ease some of the pressures faced by the NHS through this difficult period.
“Whilst our multi-organ scanning project is on hold, our skilled team are eager to help increase local scanning capacity to benefit the local people of Bristol and its surrounding region, who have always supported our research very generously.”
UK Biobank’s Filton facility will provide a state of the art resource for people to receive diagnostic tests away from a hospital setting. Systems are linked to those at UHBW and NBT to ensure teams have easy access to the images from the centre. The unit is supported and managed by clinical teams at NBT and UHBW together to ensure that the same excellent service will be received as at the acute hospitals.
No coronavirus patients will be referred to this facility, but the site will continue to operate with strict infection prevention control measures in place to prevent the spread of the virus.
Diagnostic scans will continue at existing UHBW and NBT sites with patients referred to the Filton facility depending on their individual needs.