The BMJ Awards 2018: Diagnostic Team of the YearBMJ 2018; 361 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k1521 (Published 05 April 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;361:k1521
- Nigel Hawkes, freelance journalist
- London, UK
Bath PET/CT team
Patients with cancer or dementia need access to scanners that combine two modalities in the same machine: positron emission tomography and computed tomography (PET/CT). For cancer patients, says Stewart Redman, consultant radiologist at Royal United Hospitals Bath, PET/CT scans often inform the final choice between radical treatment with curative intent and palliative care, while for dementia patients the technique can give an early diagnosis.
“Our patients didn’t have easy access to a scanner,” he says. “Some had to travel for up to 90 minutes. In 2013 we were in the lowest 20% of PET/CT scanning rates.” The answer was to acquire a scanner, which cost £1.2 million, and provide space for it, costing £1.4 million. A charity provided the first and the trust the second, locating it in an old barium screening room.
But this policy would only make sense if full use could be made of the investment. “If you’re the Royal Marsden, you can easily fill a PET/CT scanner with patients. But in a district general hospital, with a catchment of half a million, there aren’t enough patients to run it more than two or three days a week. The answer was to use the machine as a high volume CT scanner the rest of the time, which also helped solve our CT capacity problem.”
This neat solution meant merging the radiology and nuclear medicine departments and striving to match the high standards available in Cheltenham, where patients had previously been sent. “It was a high quality service, the only drawback being the distance to travel,” he says. “We had to match that quality and I think we have.” The scan …