King’s Lynn hospital is well placed to deal with expected scan increase

The Queen unveiled a plaque to officially open the MRI Unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King'

The Queen unveiled a plaque to officially open the MRI Unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

Doctors at a King's Lynn hospital have said they are well-prepared for an expected increase in the use of X-rays, scans and other imaging techniques used to help diagnose illnesses.

At a public information event at the town's Queen Elizabeth Hospital, consultant radiologist Geoff Hunnam said there had already been a massive increase in the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans in the past 15 years, with an increase of about five times since 1998.

Endoscopy procedures, where doctors use fibre-optics and a small camera to help them see inside the body, are also set to increase.

Alan Wiles, consultant gastroenterologist at the QEH, said the number of colonoscopies was set to increase by 50pc over the next five years.

However, he said: 'If we are looking at a huge increase in demand for our services, this trust is very well placed.'

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Because of investment in recent years, Dr Wiles said the QEH would only need to increase its facilities to cope with the increased demand by 1pc, while other hospitals are expected to have to play catch-up.

Dr Wiles said: 'There are some trusts in this region where colonoscopy is not offered... Chances are you won't get the gold standard of care. If you come here, you will.'

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He said the endoscopy department was also trying to recruit more specialist nurses who would be able to be more flexible and would not be subject to as many demands in other parts of the hospital. He also said the QEH was trying to get accreditation for its programmes, including in bowel cancer screening.

He added that the use of imaging techniques in hospitals was important because it could help spot inflammation and ulcers in areas such as the stomach. 'It can help to prevent cancers,' he said.

Dr Hunnam said the increase in use of scans such as MRI could be 'particularly explained by technology'.

He added: 'We can see more, do more and provide more clinical support. What we need to do now is keep the waiting times as short as possible.

'We at the QEH have recognised the central role of radiology and have invested heavily in two new MRI scanners,' referring to equipment purchased by the hospital in 2012.

The MRI unit was officially opened by the Queen in February.

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