A hospital has had to call in builders to fix problems with its £7m radiology centre, just a year after it opened.

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) treated the first patients at its Centre for Interventional Radiology last autumn.

At the time it was hailed as the first centre in the country to house two advanced imaging robots which give precision guidance for procedures such as biopsies and reduce the need for surgery.

Eastern Daily Press: The Interventional Radiology Unit was built in 2019 and 2020The Interventional Radiology Unit was built in 2019 and 2020 (Image: Archant)

But according to a source, work at the centre has “ground to a near halt” after major structural problems were found in the metal supports for the building's ceilings.

It has meant procedures have had to be cancelled at a time when the hospital is already under immense pressure.

Earlier this week the NNUH moved to its highest alert level because of the huge demands on it. There are long waits at A&E and staff are being moved to help with the Covid booster programme.

And in an interview with this newspaper last week, chief executive Sam Higginson said it would take years to clear the hospital's long waiting lists.

A hospital spokesman confirmed: “Structural engineers have investigated and urgent works are underway to resolve the issues as soon as possible.”

The spokesman said two of the four radiology rooms had shut temporarily after problems were found in the ceiling supports at the start of this month.

The other two rooms continue to operate for emergencies and some procedures.

These problems are having a knock-on impact on areas such as heart procedures, he said.

Eastern Daily Press: The Norfolk Centre for Interventional Radiology treated its first patients in autumn 2020The Norfolk Centre for Interventional Radiology treated its first patients in autumn 2020 (Image: NNUH)

The hospital spokesman added it was hoped that one room would be working again by December 23 and the other by January 11. He said the Trust would not have to pay repair costs.

The principal contractor in the construction of the building is called MTX. The Cheshire company has been contacted for comment.

When it opened, the hospital said the centre was desperately needed as demand on radiology had surged.

It welcomed its first patients in September last year, quadrupling the number of radiology rooms at the hospital.

The NNUH said at the time it placed the hospital "among the foremost centres in the UK for interventional radiology".

"In turn this will transform the Trust into a national beacon of excellence and a regional training centre in this field," it added.

Much of the unit was constructed off site and then lifted with a crane onto the east wing of the hospital.

There are four treatment rooms, a 16-bed recovery unit, nurse bases, and an anaesthetic room.

Last year the hospital also had problems with another construction project.

It spent £4m on a building for severely ill Covid patients but the extension was not used for such patients because of staffing problems, a source said.