First ‘mini’ MRI scanner for the North West


Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is working in partnership with local GPs to deliver a new MRI scanning service for patients.

Local Clinical Commissioning Groups have provided around £200,000 for a new ‘mini’ MRI scanner, which is a scaled-down version of the standard MRI scanners used at the Royal Preston and Chorley and South Ribble hospitals.  The mini scanner has been designed to be used for body parts such as elbows, wrists, knees and ankles which can be placed into the scanner, removing the need for a patient’s whole body to pass through the machine.  This type of scanner is particularly effective for dealing with sport-related injuries, and was used by athletes at the London 2012 Olympics.

John Howells, Consultant in Radiology, said:”Currently, these scanners are not widely used in this country but they offer many benefits to patients.  Some people get very claustrophobic in the standard sized MRI scanners, so being able to simply insert the part of your body which needs to be scanned will be a huge improvement for many patients.  They also use less energy which makes them more environmentally friendly.”

For the first time, local GP’s will have direct access to equipment, and will be able to book their patients in for a scan without going through the hospital outpatient appointments system.

Dr Ann Bowman and Dr Gora Bangi, the Chairs of the local Clinical Commissioning Groups, said: “The aim of clinical commissioning groups is to ensure that services are developed and delivered to meet the needs of local people.  Patients need timely access to diagnostic equipment in order for their treatment plans to be developed, so it is good news that GPs will now have direct access to this service.”

Karen Partington, Chief Executive of Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said:”I am delighted that we are pioneering the use of these new MRI scanners in this country in partnership with our local GPs.  Leading the way with new innovations in medicines and healthcare technology is an important factor in enabling us to deliver excellent care with compassion.”