The dawning of a new year provides an opportunity to look back and reflect on the previous year. Surveying the diagnostic and therapeutic imaging landscape in the UK, 2013 was an interesting year. The publication of the Francis Report in February was a pivotal moment that will have long lasting consequences for the NHS. February also saw the official opening of the BIR’s new premises in St John Street and I was privileged to be in attendance at the opening ceremony and attend my last Council meeting as a Trustee there in September.
Liverpool hosted the UKRC in June for the first time and the event was a huge success.
In August, the government announced a commitment to establish two proton beam therapy centres by 2018: an exiting development for UK cancer treatment and the imaging community as a whole. August also saw the publishing by the DoH of “Better Procurement, Better Value, Better Care: A Procurement Development Programme for the NHS” which aims to build a modern, effective and efficient procurement capability in the NHS that is among the best in the world.
On the business front, we saw unprecedented activity in the RIS, PACS and Vendor Neutral Archiving space, with what can be described as a tsunami of implementation activity in the first half of the year as many NHS Trusts in the southern cluster and the North West and West Midlands cluster of the Connecting for Health Programme opted to exit the Programme and procure, implement and manage their own IT solutions.
Despite the establishment of the DoH Capital Equipment Fund, purchases of high-end imaging modalities by the NHS continued to be depressed with CT scanners, MRI units and general X-Ray room all failing to recover, a point highlighted elsewhere by my fellow industry bloggers. This will continue to be a challenge for the NHS with an ageing installed base and is a source of frustration given the significant savings being generated through the closing of the Connecting for Health Programme. It is imperative that these savings are channeled into investment in innovation to enable patients and staff to benefit from the faster throughput, lower patient exposure and lower total cost of ownership offered by new imaging modalities.
Looking forward to 2014, the NHS will continue to be a challenging environment in which to work and operate. The move to 7-day working will continue to accelerate against a continually challenging economic environment. More NHS Trusts are expected to exit the Connecting for Health Programme. On the technology front, imaging modalities will become more compact, efficient and faster, have higher throughput and lower dose and be more flexible. Healthcare IT solutions will become more portable, feature-rich and integrated. And on the political front there is the not insignificant matter of the Scottish referendum on independence in September, something, as a native Glaswegian, I will watch with much interest!
In closing, I would like to take this opportunity to wish the BIR continued success for the future and wish you a Happy New Year.
Charles McCaffrey, Cluster Manager – North Europe and Managing Director UK & Ireland, Carestream Health.
(Charlie is also Chair of AXrEM—the Trade Association of Healthcare Technology Providers for Imaging, Radiotherapy and Care)