Greater Manchester takes important step forward in vision to unite imaging IT

Eight NHS trusts across Greater Manchester have taken an important step in a new region-wide imaging approach that will enable faster diagnoses for millions of patients, following the signing of a contract with medical imaging IT company Sectra.

The PACS will be implemented in the cloud by Sectra alongside a VNA, replacing an ageing system. Once live across the trusts, radiologists and diagnostic professionals will be able to more easily access and report on patient images captured at any hospital in the region. Clinicians at the point of care will also be able to access images at the click of a button through their own organisation’s electronic patient record systems, and through a regional integrated digital care record. In addition, the system will provide the foundations to transform patient pathways and to take advantage of emerging technologies including AI.

The clinically-led programme will cover the 3.2 million people in the geographical reach of the Greater Manchester Cancer programme, making it one of the largest imaging programmes of its kind.

Jenny Ehrhardt
Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust group chief finance officer Jenny Ehrhardt signs the contract for Sectra’s IT services.

Northern Care Alliance NHS Group chief executive Raj Jain is executive senior responsible owner for the programme, which is managed by Greater Manchester Provider Federation Board. He said: “This programme for a collaborative approach to imaging has required a high degree of cooperation and trust. It will lead to significantly improved outcomes for our patients and significantly improved work-life balance and satisfaction for our staff, as well as productivity and financial benefits. Our vision wasn’t for a PACS system – this is a means to an end. Our new approach will enable clinical communities and multidisciplinary teams to come together around the patient in a way we presently can’t do.”

Clinical lead for the programme and consultant radiologist at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust Dr Rhidian Bramley added: “This agreement represents the culmination of many years of work. A single, unified record will help to avoid delays that come with manually transferring images between hospitals. It will help us to reduce variation in waiting times and improve equity in access. For cancer this will help us to meet our objective to diagnose more patients at an earlier stage to help save thousands more lives.”

The new platform will be used to process up to four million examinations a year and will be deployed across the eight NHS trusts at different stages, with the first going live this year.

Clinical lead for the programme and interim divisional medical director at the Royal Bolton Hospital Dr Rizwan Malik said: “In any multidisciplinary setting we can have a more informed meaningful discussion about a patient. If they present out of hours, we don’t need to wait until the office opens in the morning to access imaging. It will allow us to quickly access second opinions from colleagues while having greater access to peer review.”

It is expected to bring together imaging from disciplines including nuclear medicine, orthopaedics and medical photography. It has also been future-proofed so that endoscopy, cardiology and pathology images can eventually be added.

Published on page 8 of the November 2020 issue of RAD Magazine.

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