Over 2,500 scans completed at Montagu Hospital’s Community Diagnostic Centre

Following the installation of MRI and CT suites at Montagu Hospital, over 1,000 and 1,600 respective scans have been completed, significantly reducing Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals (DBTH) backlog of patients waiting for important diagnostic tests.

Late last year, Montagu Hospital was selected to host one of a pair of ‘Community Diagnostic Centres’ (CDC) within South Yorkshire, following a £3 million investment from the South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Integrated Care System (ICS), of which Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals (DBTH) has received around £230,000 of capital funding so far.

Managed as part of five year project, the first step was completed in January, as mobile MRI and CT units were placed on site, following the construction of suitable foundation pads by the Trust’s Estates and Facilities teams. Since that time, the scanners were working throughout the latter parts of winter and into spring, providing a suitable alternative for local residents, and particularly those that reside within the Dearne Valley, to receive crucial hospital care within a community setting that is convenient for them.

Unfortunately, there are around 367,000 new cancer cases in Britain each year, which works out at around 1,000 detected daily. With restrictions imposed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, cancer waiting lists have increased, as has the backlog of individuals awaiting diagnostic tests, a crucial component to the fight against the illness, as early detection often leads to better outcomes. As such, colleagues at DBTH, along with partners, are doing all they can reduce any delays locally.

Sara Elliott, Head of Radiology at DBTH, said: “The creation of the Community Diagnostic Centre at Montagu Hospital has been a monumental task, but one that the project team have really stepped up to, and I’m so proud that we have one of the first CDCs in the country, and the first in region, to mobilise and start seeing patients.

“Of particular note, with the additional capacity provided at Montagu Hospital, by the end of March we will have completely eradicated our MRI backlog, with very few waiting within the next few weeks – an incredible achievement.

“From our patient booking teams to the staff who operate the scanners we currently have on site at Mexborough, they have all done a fantastic job. We still have some way to go with our backlog, and returning to levels seen prior to the pandemic, but the CDC will be a crucial component in our recovery journey.”

The first part of the CDC is now complete, plans have been developed by the Trust’s Strategy and Improvement team with clinical leads from relevant services and with the support from local NHS Commissioners, the region’s Integrated Care System and Cancer Alliance to take the project forward. The ‘Phase 2 Business Case’ will be submitted in the coming months, and colleagues are hopeful that it will receive the approval necessary from the regional and national team for further funding.

The Trust intends to communicate further about upcoming plans as and when it is able to, and in the meantime is looking for local people to get involved with future projects and developments such as the Community Diagnostic Centre, sharing their views and helping to shape healthcare in the area. If you wish to be involved, please email dbth.comms@nhs.net

David Purdue, Chief Nurse at DBTH, said: “I want to thank everybody for their hard work so far in taking the Community Diagnostic Centre from a series of plans and intentions on paper into a functioning service which has already made a difference to thousands of local people. Ensuring we have services in a place which is convenient to those we serve is incredibly important, and we see Montagu Hospital as an extremely important site, not just for the people of Mexborough, but also all of those that live within the Dearne Valley, so as a Trust we are pleased to see it utilised in such a positive manner.

“We also need to be realistic about the work ahead of us. Services such as the CDC, as well as our supporting Rapid Diagnostic Service, which underpins much of our cancer diagnostic and subsequent care, are incredible important as we seek to reduce the backlog of activity which has accumulated throughout the past two years. This challenge will take time to resolve, but I can assure local people that we are doing all we can, and going as fast as possible, to ensure patients get access to the care and treatment they need.”

Funding for the CDC has been secured as part of a national programme to help the NHS further accelerate diagnostic activity and recover services from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic as quickly as possible. It is a share of a £350m national pot to create 40 new centres and was announced by the Government and NHS on Friday 1 October 2021. These new one-stop-shops for checks, scans and tests will provide a combined 2.8 million scans in their first full year of operation, of which the Montagu service will play its part.