A state-of-the-art diagnostics centre giving increased access to tests and serving patients from across Somerset and surrounding areas has officially opened.
The Rutherford Diagnostic Centre Somerset in Taunton, run by Rutherford Diagnostics Limited – a subsidiary of Rutherford Health PLC – in partnership with Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, is the first community diagnostics centre of its kind in England
It will provide diagnostic services including Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Computed Tomography (CT), Ultrasound and X-Ray on equipment provided by Rutherford’s technology partner, Philips.
The centre was inaugurated by the renowned cancer specialist, Professor Sir Mike Richards CBE, former National Cancer director in the Department of Health.
Professor Richards said: “I’m delighted to have formally opened the first community diagnostics centre run by the independent sector in partnership with the NHS. Even prior to the pandemic the need for more diagnostic services was very clear and the last 18 months have underlined how important it is to rise to meet this challenge successfully.”
Somerset NHS Foundation Trust entered into a partnership with Rutherford Diagnostics Limited in June 2020 amid concerns that the trust might not be able to keep pace with demand for diagnostic tests in the future.
Peter Lewis, chief executive of Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This is a fantastic facility for patients in Somerset and the surrounding areas.
“As a result our patients have access to diagnostic tests at this modern stand-alone facility away from a busy hospital. This is part of the new recommended way forward for the NHS and has become more important as a result of the global pandemic.
“It also brings real benefits for our radiology, radiographic and booking colleagues who will be working alongside Rutherford’s staff in the centre, enabling them to work in more diverse environments and expand their experience.”
The centre will also help the trust to prioritise its capacity usage at Musgrove Park Hospital for emergency patients or those who are already in the hospital.
Lewis added: “This is not only good for our patients, but also the way we care for people across the whole Somerset healthcare system by enabling them to have imaging scans away from the acute hospital.”
Besides, the additional capacity at the centre will enable the trust to increase its CT capacity by a quarter immediately and its MRI capacity by a quarter within three months.
The centre is the first of the five that Rutherford intends to develop under an agreement between Rutherford Health plc and Equitix, a leading investor, developer in the UK and Europe. Philips will provide the innovative technology at all five sites.
Mike Moran, chief executive officer of Rutherford Health, said: “There has never been a more important time for innovative partnering in healthcare in the UK, to ensure patients get access to earlier diagnosis and the best treatment as quickly as possible.
“This centre is a major step forward in addressing the rising demand for diagnostic services across Somerset and we are delighted to be working in collaboration with the Somerset NHS Foundation Trust to deliver tangible benefit to their patients.