Published by Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, Secretary of State for Health on 7 July 2016
- Our Work
- The Reformer Blog
12 July 2016
PET-CT (positron emission tomography – computed tomography) is one of the most powerful imaging tools available to clinicians today. They use it to diagnose cancer and, increasingly, other conditions such as cardiac and neurological diseases. Demand is increasing, fuelled by advances in technology, an increasing incidence of cancer, the drive for earlier and better diagnosis and an increased evidence-based understanding of PET-CT’s capabilities by clinicians. Historically the UK has lagged behind the rest of Europe in terms of access to scans. In 2013, the UK average was 1,257 scans per million of the population compared to the European average of 2,900 scans per million.
Alliance Medical’s partnership with other NHS institutions aims to lift the diagnostic infrastructure in England to a new level. NHS England chose this collaborative network in 2015 to provide scans over ten years, following a tender process. The network includes Alliance Medical, The Christie Hospital in Manchester, other NHS hospitals and universities.
The first objective is to improve access. Alliance’s status as a medium-sized company operating diagnostic services in six European countries means that it can deliver the number of scans needed to improve access for patients. It will invest £80 million to improve the current infrastructure and increase the number of sites at which PET-CT services are available, both fixed and mobile.
The second objective is to put the capability and capacity of the NHS on an entirely new footing. The network will therefore provide training and education for radiologists, technologists and radiographers through a School of Oncology provided by The Christie. Further it will generate data for researchers at The Christie and other academic organisations. The goal is improved clinical practice and an increased specialist workforce.
The governance of the contract also contributes to improved patient care. The governance board includes clinicians representing geographies within the network, universities, the Christie, patient representatives and Alliance Medical. It determines standardised clinical practices across all of the network’s sites.
Overall the nature of the partnership means that the cost per scan will be 18 per cent lower than the current cost, even though the new specification will be significantly higher than the existing one. This cost saving will be realised from the beginning of the contract.
Partnership with the independent sector is a means to an end. The goal is better patient care. By improving access, research and training, the network of which Alliance Medical is a part will improve the diagnostic pathway and provide faster diagnosis for all. A transformation in the PET-CT infrastructure will play its part in raising five-year survival rates in England from 54 per cent in 2008-12 to 67 per cent in 2020.
Guy Blomfield, Group Chief Executive Officer, Alliance Medical Group