Cash boost for cancer screening in Wigan

Wigan Infirmary
Wigan Infirmary

Wigan’s hospital trust has welcomed “vital” new government funding that it says will improve services across all of its departments.

Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh (WWL) NHS Foundation Trust is one of 78 across the country to benefit from funding for new cancer testing and detection technology.

And the trust said that, as it had already began improving its cancer screening services, the cash boost can now also be used to benefit a wider range of services outside of its radiology unit.

Last month the Prime Minister announced an extra £200m in funding for new cancer screening equipment.

The 78 trusts will receive funding over the next two years to replace, refurbish and upgrade CT and MRI scanners – bringing in alternatives with lower radiation levels, and breast screening imaging and assessment equipment.

The new machines will improve screening and early diagnosis of cancer, and are part of the government’s commitment to ensure 55,000 more people survive cancer each year.

Replacing and upgrading machines will improve efficiency by making them easier to use, being quicker to scan and construct images reducing the need to re-scan.

Each trust has been allocated funding for new machines based on an assessment of local infrastructure and local population need.

Debbi Pountney, directorate manager at for WWL’s radiology and cancer services, said the trust certainly welcomed the additional funding for its radiology division.

“As WWL had already committed to improving the MR provision at our Wigan site, recognising that the existing MR scanner was in need of replacement, a business case had already been approved,” she said.

“With this in mind, the monies received from the Government for the scanner’s cost will go back in the trust’s capital pot for reallocation.

“This, in turn, means that much needed vital equipment will be able to be purchased, not only in radiology but trust-wide, to provide and improve service for our patients and to help increase capacity across our sites, potentially reducing access times, especially for cancer patients.”

She added: “The replacement scanner project is now under way and from 8pm on Friday, November 8, car park A (adjacent to the Christopher Home Building) at the Wigan Infirmary site will be closed until 8am on Monday, November 11. This is to make way for the works to be completed to accommodate the new scanner. All other car parks on the Wigan Infirmary site will remain open over the weekend.

“The new scanner is due to be operational at the end of the financial year. In the interim, a temporary scanner will be in situ on car park D, at the front of the Cancer Care, for up to 18 weeks and will receive it first patients from November 12.”

Cally Palmer, National Cancer Director at NHS England, said: “Cancer survival is at a record high thanks to better prevention, earlier diagnosis and world-leading treatments in the NHS.

“This major investment in the best modern scanning technology will benefit patients in every part of England, helping us to achieve the NHS Long Term Plan’s ambitions of catching tens of thousands more cancers earlier when they are easier to treat, saving 55,000 more lives every year.”

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “This new state-of-the-art equipment for 78 trusts across England will ensure doctors and clinicians can help even more people survive a cancer diagnosis and stop the disease as early as possible.”