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NHS trusts across Greater Manchester embark on diagnostic imaging project

Eight NHS trusts will all get a region-wide, cloud-based picture archiving and communication system (PACS) and a new supplier-neutral archive from Sectra, allowing them to share images across the region

Eight NHS trusts in Greater Manchester have all signed a contract with IT company Sectra to create a region-wide medical imaging technology platform.

The deal means all trusts will get a cloud-based picture archiving and communications system (PACS), as well as a vendor-neutral archive (VNA), allowing them easier access to images across all the hospitals in the region.

Trusts in Greater Manchester are known for their history of collaboration. The region was chosen as one of NHS England’s Local Health and Care Record Exemplars (LHCREs) in 2018, but the region first began work on shared records in 2014.

This new contract means clinicians will be able to access images through their own electronic patient record systems (EPRs), as well as through the region’s shared care record.

Raj Jain, executive senior responsible owner for the programme that is managed by the Greater Manchester Provider Federation Board, and the CEO of the Northern Care Alliance NHS Group (NCA), said the programme for “a collaborative approach to imaging in Greater Manchester 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 that will help us sustain great care going forward,” Jain said.

“Our vision wasn’t for a PACS system – this is a means to an end. The real vision is about how we want to take forward patient care. Our new approach will enable clinical communities and multi-disciplinary teams to come together around the patient in a way we presently can’t do.

“The PACS platform is an essential component to taking forward a new model of care in Greater Manchester, allowing digital images to form part of the core patient record and to create a holistic persona for the patient that our clinicians can use much more effectively than we have ever done before.”

The trusts involved in the programme include Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust,  Stockport NHS Foundation Trust, Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust and Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care Foundation Trust.

It also includes the Northern Care Alliance NHS Group, which covers all the hospitals under Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust and Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust.

The trusts have big hopes for the future of the programme, and hopes to be able to bring together imaging for more than just radiology, covering nuclear medicine, orthopaedics and medical photography, as well as including images from endoscopy, cardiology and pathology.

One of the clinical leads for the project, Rhidian Bramley, consultant radiologists at the Christie NHS Foundation Trust said the 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 individual 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 to save thousands more lives,” he said.

“The platform itself will make a significant difference to professionals, providing modern tools to report images while allowing us to embrace emerging artificial intelligence and to support important programmes of research,” he added.

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