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Hospital pioneers direct access to CT scans

08/04/2014

The Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital in Grimsby is one of the first in the country to offer direct access to CT scans for outpatients. 

Staff in the radiology department have completely revolutionised their service to enable patients who come in for an outpatient appointment and require a scan to go directly for it rather than being referred and having to come back another day.

Jackie Carpus, head of CT at the hospital, said: “Previously a patient would come in for their outpatient appointment and if their clinician referred them for a CT scan they would then have to wait for an appointment to be made and a letter sent out to them. This could take over a week and generated a lot of administrative work.”

Now patients will be offered the chance to go straight for their scan and the images are available electronically for their consultant to view as soon as the scan is finished.

It was the move to seven-day working which has enabled the department to completely reorganise the way they work, as Jackie explains: “We’re still carrying out planned work and GP referrals but we’re doing this outside of the outpatient clinics opening times - so on a weekday morning before clinics start and on an evening after they’ve finished. On Saturdays and Sundays there are no outpatient clinics so we reserve this time for planned work and emergencies.”

Jackie says the idea for the project came from one of the consultants at the Trust. She said: “We were initially approached by one of our respiratory consultants who asked us to look at providing a direct service for his suspected cancer patients. We trialled it with their department and it was such a success we decided to work with our other colleagues in outpatients to see if we could roll it out across all their clinic specialties.”

Dr Joseph Alex, consultant radiologist, said: “This new concept of service delivery has accelerated the whole diagnostic process and sped up the process of patient management. This will have a positive impact on improving the quality of care and patient outcomes. We undoubtedly owe the success of direct access CT scans to the team effort of the dedicated staff within the radiology department.”

In the first month of the scanning service being up and running 158 patients were seen with 318 examinations carried out.

Even though it’s only in its early stages the new way of working has already proven to make a real difference to patients. Jackie said: “We had one patient who came in for their outpatient appointment on the Monday and was referred to us for their scan on the same day. We picked up an unexpected cancer and by the Wednesday the patient was back in the oncology clinic with an agreed treatment plan and had booked in for their first treatment.”

If you are a North Lincolnshire resident and you've used this service then please let us know at HealthWatch North Lincolnshire what you thought about it, positive experiences are helpful to showcase that best practice exists in our region.  

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