£16 million investment coming to Montagu Hospital to increase testing capacity

Colleagues at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals (DBTH) have received confirmation of further funding to create an imaging suite at Montagu Hospital, as part of the site’s wider Community Diagnostic Centre (CDC) plans.

In 2021, Montagu Hospital, was selected to host one of a pair of ‘Community Diagnostic Centres’ (CDCs) within South Yorkshire, following a £3 million investment from the National CDC Programme, of which Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals (DBTH) received around £230,000 of initial capital funding.

Phase one of the project began in January 2022 when a mobile MRI was placed at Montagu Hospital and this was joined in early February by a CT scanner. In the first three months of operation around 2,600 patients were seen, and many more since – work that has helped to reduce the backlog of activity which has accumulated as a result of COVID-19-related restrictions throughout the past two years.

Following this successful initial development, the Trust received funding of just over £9 million to take the project to its second phase in July 2022. This meant the development of a fully functional endoscopy suite, with training facilities and multifunctional clinic rooms including ultrasound facilities in addition to the continuation of the work undertaken during phase one, with CT and MRI scanning continuing using mobile units.

A further case was submitted and approved for these developments to be joined by the creation of an imaging suite which will contain Static CT, MRI and ultrasound scanning facilities, significantly increasing the site’s capacity to undertake diagnostic tests for illnesses such as cancer.

As per current plans, construction on the new endoscopy suite will begin in March 2023, and will be placed within the exiting Pain Clinic which has been re-sited within the previously vacant physio-therapy area, while the imaging suite will be a new build to the rear of site in accordance with the site Development Control Plan adjacent to the new Montagu Elective Orthopaedic Centre, works for which will also get underway shortly.

Jon Sargeant, Director of Recovery, Innovation and Transformation at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals, said: “Diagnostic Centres are envisaged to be a one-stop-shops for checks, scans and tests. Since 2022, the Trust has received funding over £25 million to invest in services at Montagu Hospital and bring services closer to our communities. The huge benefit of utilising our Mexborough site is that it is defined as a ‘cold site’ and does not provide emergency services. This means that, despite peaks in activity within the wider acute hospitals, our CDC facilities will be ringfenced and protected against the usual cancellations and postponements which can, unfortunately, be common as staff are moved elsewhere to help manage emergency pressures, particularly in winter.”

At present, colleagues undertake 23 hours of CT scanning work at Montagu Hospital, seeing around 70 patients a week. Once the static scanners are in place within the new imaging suite, it is anticipated this will increase to 57.5 hours, or around 172 patients – more than doubling the current capacity. Finally, after the completion of phase two, the CDC will have the capacity to see 241 patients per week. A similar increase will also be seen with MRI diagnostics.

Finally, the team will be able to offer cardiac imaging and echo cardiography. At present, cardiac Imaging is not a service DBTH offers, with patients having to be referred to Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital. By using MRI and CT technology, it is possible to diagnose a wide-range of heart conditions including coronary heart disease, valve disease, and cardiac tumours.

The Trust is hoping to offer this locally within the Mexborough site in an effort to reduce health inequalities across the region, enhance the care provided for cardiovascular disease, and reduce unnecessary delays to diagnosis.

Dr Tim Noble, Executive Medical Director at DBTH, said: “By investing and further developing the Community Diagnostic Centre in Mexborough, we will be able to increase our overall diagnostic capacity, improving patient experience by providing faster diagnosis and treatment, implementing future pathways of care, as well as training staff to deliver these services in the future.

“Colleagues worked extremely hard to complete the first phase of this project, and our teams have gone above and beyond to secure further funding, and develop a further business case, to ensure that we are on track to deliver the ambitions we laid out when we began this journey – a huge ‘thank you’ to all those involved.”

Works will start to get underway in the coming weeks, with the endoscopy suite anticipated to be completed in Autumn 2023 and the imaging suite by Summer 2024.

Gavin Boyle, Chief Executive at NHS South Yorkshire, said: “We are working hard across South Yorkshire to reduce the time that our patients are waiting for operations and treatments. The one stop test, check and scan centre in Mexborough will give people from across the area better and faster access to get checked out and into treatment or help them manage long term conditions.

“This is a significant investment and I’m delighted this will offer people vital services much closer to home without the need to travel too far. By working together across our health and care system we can continue to drive forward improvements, such as this new centre, to provide the best possible experience of healthcare and ensure our local people have access to services they need to live well.”