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NHS scanners and X-ray machines are at least ten years old in more than a quarter of health funds

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Danger from decades-old NHS scanners and X-ray machines: More than a quarter of health facilities have CT and MRI equipment at least a decade old, audit reveals

  • Decades of old scanners and X-rays could thwart efforts to tackle NHS waiting lists
  • Staff shortages also pose a risk to patients because there are not enough people to operate equipment and interpret results
  • Great Ormond Street Hospital Trust has a 21-year-old CT scanner
  • The UK has one of the lowest numbers of scanners in the developed world










Decades-old scanners and X-ray machines could thwart efforts to tackle the NHS’s record waiting lists, a shocking audit finds.

A severe shortage of staff to operate the equipment and interpret the results also poses a risk to patients, experts say.

Officials recommend that CT and MRI scanners be replaced every ten years to ensure they continue to work reliably and produce clear images. But 27.1 percent of health funds in England have at least one CT scanner that is more than ten years old, and 34.5 percent have at least one MRI of this age.

Great Ormond Street Hospital Trust in London has the oldest MRI scanner at 21 years old, according to responses to requests for freedom of information. A CT scanner at Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust is 16 years old, while St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in South London has an X-ray machine purchased 44 years ago.

Officials recommend that CT and MRI scanners be replaced every ten years to ensure they continue to work reliably and produce clear images. But 27.1 percent of health funds in England have at least one CT scanner that is more than ten years old and 34.5 percent have at least one MRI of this age (stock image)

Meanwhile, the UK has some of the lowest numbers of scanners in the developed world, the rankings show. Germany has four times as many CT scanners per capita and five times as many MRI scanners.

An MRI scanner costs around £1 million, a CT £900,000 and an X-ray machine £160,000. In total, the NHS in England has about 3,000 X-ray machines, 516 CT scanners and 425 MRI scanners.

dr. Julian Elford, from the Royal College of Radiologists, also stressed that the NHS was short of 2,000 radiologists, adding: ‘There is no doubt that there is an urgent need to upgrade imaging equipment in the UK. CT and MRI machines begin to become technically obsolete after ten years.

Meanwhile, the UK has some of the lowest numbers of scanners in the developed world, the rankings show.  Germany has four times as many CT scanners per capita and five times as many MRI scanners (stock image)

Meanwhile, the UK has some of the lowest numbers of scanners in the developed world, the rankings show. Germany has four times as many CT scanners per capita and five times as many MRI scanners (stock image)

“Older kit tends to break, be slower and produce lower quality images, so upgrading is critical. And Emlyn Samuel, from Cancer Research UK, said: ‘Diagnosing cancer early gives patients the best chance of survival, so it’s disheartening to see how far the UK is lagging behind in diagnostic equipment.’

Coroners have repeatedly raised concerns about the shortage of radiologic staff and scanners, citing this in 48 Preventing Future Deaths between 2016 and 2021, according to Channel 4’s Dispatches.

Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents NHS trusts, said: ‘Replacing or upgrading equipment such as aging scanners would help trusts significantly get on hospital waiting lists and increase diagnostic capacity.’

Saffron Cordery, (pictured) deputy director of NHS Providers, which represents NHS trusts, said: 'Replacing or upgrading equipment such as aging scanners would help trusts get significantly on hospital waiting lists and increase diagnostic capacity'

Saffron Cordery, (pictured) deputy director of NHS Providers, which represents NHS trusts, said: ‘Replacing or upgrading equipment such as aging scanners would help trusts get significantly on hospital waiting lists and increase diagnostic capacity’

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care insisted: ‘We have supported the NHS with £525 million over the past two years to replace diagnostic equipment and have recently set up 40 new one-stop-shop community diagnostic centers to cover 2, 8 million euros to be delivered. million extra scans for patients.’

Expanded: is the NHS broken? – Shipments will be shown on channel 4 tonight at 8 p.m.

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