A new mobile screening service will cut waiting times for patients needing scans to diagnose cancer

A new mobile screening service will cut waiting times for patients needing scans to diagnose cancer and other serious conditions.

It will carry out more than 120,000 extra MRI scans a year for NHS patients using 12 mobile units.

Alliance Medical will operate the units, providing their own operating staff and radiologists. The scans will cost less than half the equivalent NHS price.

The new service will increase NHS capacity by more than 15 per cent and will help to tackle long waits for MRI scans in some parts of the country. The extra capacity will help to cut the time that patients wait from GP referral to hospital treatment to a maximum of 18 weeks by 2008, as set out in the NHS Improvement Plan last week.

Health Minister John Hutton said: “This is a great deal for the NHS and its patients. It will help reduce the long waits that some patients experience for their MRI scans. By taking the units to those areas with the longest waits, we are prioritising those with the greatest need.

“Last week, the government promised to cut waiting times for MRI scans. This is the first installment of a major expansion in scanning capacity that will come online in the next twelve months.”

The new units will begin operating towards the end of next month. They will be open from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday and 8am to 6pm on Saturdays, maximising the capacity and increasing convenience for patients.

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