New hospital scanner goes live

A new MRI scanner which is the first of its kind in the UK goes live at Cromer hospital on Monday.

The �600,000 scanner will help to meet the growing demand for specialist diagnostic imaging and will be available as an out-patient service for patients living north of Norwich.

The GE scanner uses about 34pc less energy than older MRI models, and the new scanner can produce high-quality 3D images in a much faster time.

Hospital bosses have assured patients that the new equipment will not suffer the same fate as a second-hand MRI scanner which was operating in Cromer Hospital from December 2006.

It was eventually replaced by a mobile visiting unit after funding problems, breakdowns and a failure to recruit enough trained MRI radiographers.

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The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital Trust which operates Cromer as its only satellite unit has trained its own staff to man the scanner.

Among the first patients to benefit will be Tim Richards, a self-employed electrician from Ludham, who was referred for a scan after suffering persistent pain in his knee.

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'As an electrician I spend half my life either on my knees or climbing ladders,' he said. 'I'm told the pain could be due to one of several different things so I'm hoping the scan will shed light on the cause of the problem.'

The arrival of the MRI scanner comes as Cromer hospital undergoes a �15m rebuild paid for by two major legacies of �11m and �1m left by local women Sagle Bernstein and Phyllis Cox.

The scanner is housed in the existing radiology unit which will remain in place on the redeveloped hospital site.

Part of a wall had to be removed to allow the six-and-a-half ton magnet to be carefully lowered into place before specialist engineers moved in to commission and test the new machine in readiness for the first patients.

It is hoped the new scanner will help us to keep pace with an ever growing demand for specialist imaging services.

Meanwhile the Cromer hospital redevelopment project continues with the refurbishment of Barclay Ward for renal dialysis and the creation of a temporary car park at the football club on the opposite side of the road.

The renovations include the re-roofing of Barclay Ward and a restructured ward layout to make space for nine renal dialysis stations. The new dialysis unit is scheduled for completion in February and work on the main hospital building will start in April.

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