NHS England has announced that Southend Hospital is to remain the preferred option for the long term PET-CT service for South Essex.
The decision follows consideration of a clinical, patient and public engagement exercise which ran from October 2015 to May 2016.
PET CT is a diagnostic service predominantly used for cancer. It combines a CT scan and a PET scan into one scan to give more detailed information about a patient's cancer. A CT scan takes a series of X-rays from all around the body and uses a computer to put them together. A PET scan uses a very small amount of radioactive drug to show how body tissues are working.
Unlike the more familiar CT scans which is used in most hospitals, PET CT scans are provided in dedicated facilities in selected hospitals.
Currently PET CT scans are provided in a mobile unit two to three days a week, at Basildon Hospital. However, a clinical view was put forward that suggests Southend Hospital would be a more appropriate home for the service in the long term and this has now been confirmed as the preferred option.
NHS England say there will be some mitigating actions required to minimise the impact on patients who would find it easier to travel to Basildon.
The commissioning team reports that demand for the service is far exceeding all predictions and the need to implement a fixed site solution with increased capacity is pressing. If demand continues to grow at this rate (faster than elsewhere in the country – possibly due to the higher profile PET-CT has had in the area over the last 12 months), then NHS England may consider commissioning a second scanner for the South Essex population before the end of the contract in 2025.
The NHS England report on the PET-CT scanner service decision can be downloaded here