AXREM Statement on “Boris Funds”

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AXREM welcomes the recent £200 million investment fund announced on 27th September 2019 to replace the ageing scanner population in the NHS. This much needed investment is aligned with the NHS Long Term Plan and will provide a much-needed refresh of some of the ageing CT, MRI and Digital Mammography population of equipment currently installed in the NHS.

Whilst the time constraints associated with the funding availability provided a challenge to Radiology Departments and member companies, (bearing in mind this is highly specialised, high value equipment only available from a limited number of suppliers), our members engaged in and responded to the funding and associated procurement process with speed and agility. Their focus in the short term is on manufacturing, delivering and implementing the units purchased which will enable patients to benefit from the higher image quality, throughput and lower patient radiation exposures offered by new equipment. The second tranche of funding is now imminent, and members are preparing to address this opportunity.

We hope that this investment helps to move the UK up the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) league of age of scanners. However, we need to be realistic about the impact of the technology in a broader context: the demand for CT diagnostic examinations increased by 54% over the 5 years ending April 2018, and MR by 48% over the same period.1 People are living longer and with increasingly complex and multiple medical conditions requiring more imaging investigations to be requested and performed. This demand is likely to continue to grow in the future.

The investment that has been made recently, whilst welcome, does not increase the overall number of scanners in the UK – it simply replaces the ageing fleet that we currently have. More investment and sustainable investment is required, to increase the total scanning capacity to meet the increasing demand and further improve our position in the OECD tables and the NHS’s ability to diagnose cancer and other life changing conditions earlier.

All parties  would benefit from a smoother and more predictable profile of investment over the long term as opposed to ‘boom and bust’ investment cycles which stress the NHS Radiology teams who evaluate and select the solutions which best meet their specific needs, pressurise Procurement providers like NHS Supply Chain and places unprecedented and unplanned demand spikes on the supply chains and implementation teams of the small number of suppliers who manufacture and install this specialist technology.

In summary, we welcome this investment, but it needs to be recognised as a short term measure and that a more sustained and planned investment is needed in our scanner population to grow capacity to meet demand and address the ambitions set out in the NHS Long Term Plan.

1 https://www.rcr.ac.uk/system/files/publication/field_publication_files/clinical-radiology-uk-workforce-census-report-2018.pdf

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AXREM Contact:

Sally Edgington – AXREM Director

Email: sally.edgington@axrem.org.uk Call: 07717 058649