Peterborough awards first ever vendor-independent radiotherapy MES in UK

The UK’s first ever vendor independent radiotherapy Managed Equipment Services (MES) contract has been awarded to Asteral by Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

The new deal comes at a time when the whole of the NHS is under unprecedented financial pressure to achieve significant efficiency savings to release resources for frontline care. The MES will help to deliver cost-effective new resources for frontline care through radiotherapy equipment chosen on the basis of its clinical suitability rather than ties to individual manufacturers.

The radiotherapy MES at Peterborough supports the creation of a new radiotherapy service at the Trust that will deliver convenient state-of-the-art care closer to patients’ homes.

Steve Tuddenham, Head of Oncology Business Development from Asteral, the medical equipment solutions company that will take charge of financing, procuring, managing and servicing every item of equipment for the new radiotherapy centre outlined the significance of the deal saying “Peterborough set us a demanding target – to guarantee we could provide the most appropriate equipment, keeping it all up to date over a 33 year term, while keeping day-to-day costs to an absolute minimum. The only way we could achieve this was through our unique vendor independent model that gives freedom to choose equipment on the basis of its fit with the Trust’s requirements ensuring clinical needs are met and best value achieved. This model also meant that we could provide all elements of the radiotherapy solution from the linear accelerators to the immobilisation and quality assurance (QA) equipment without compromise.”

Tuddenham notes the significance of the contract saying “it’s no coincidence that Peterborough has contracted with us to create the first vendor independent radiotherapy MES in the UK at the time when the NHS faces an unprecedented financial squeeze. The current economic climate means any NHS organisation looking to develop new services will have to achieve best value which means combining long-term financial stability with the freedom to choose the most appropriate equipment for the job.”

Asteral’s responsibilities will include setting up the entire oncology solution, including two state of the art linear accelerators and a CT scanner supported by an oncology management system, treatment planning software and a separate virtual simulation system. The solution also includes all support devices for immobilisation and QA tools.

A number of items have already been placed on order including two Varian Clinac medical linear accelerators with advanced imaging and IMRT capabilities, a virtual simulation system from Prosoma, a wide bore oncology CT from Toshiba and IT and planning solutions also from Varian Medical Systems. Both QA and immobilisation devices will be selected from a range of suppliers ensuring the Trust can also select the best of breed technologies suitable for their requirements.

Installation of the first of these begins in August this year, in time for the new service to open in April 2011. The MES will last for a 33-year term, ensuring that the Trust can plan to deliver a consistently high-quality service regardless of capital fluctuations from year to year.

Angela Broekhuizen, Associate Director of the project from Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust explained that “when we decided to introduce radiotherapy to provide a better and more convenient service to patients, we also wanted to ensure we could deliver the highest quality care in the long-term. The best way to achieve this was through a vendor independent MES that would guarantee equipment capable of providing advanced treatments at the best possible value. We are confident that we will achieve that through our arrangement with Asteral”.

Peterborough hits major milestone

The medical equipment solutions company Asteral has achieved a key milestone working with Peterborough City Hospital as part of its groundbreaking managed equipment services contract at the Trust.

The new £335 million City Hospital is now ramping up to go live in November this year, and Asteral has successfully installed a set of new x-ray machines in its state-of-the-art emergency centre. The equipment includes three Philips BuckyDiagnost ceiling suspensions systems which are the first of many fixed items of equipment that will be installed prior to the opening of the hospital.

In addition to the x-ray machines, Asteral has taken delivery of the first MRI scanner – a GE Signa HDxt 1.5T. Weighing 6 tonnes, it took several hours to be moved into position ahead of a further installation due shortly of an even larger 11.5 tonne 3 tesla GE Signa HDxt 3.0T.

The same Asteral team is also busy installing a range of further Toshiba diagnostic equipment ahead of the City Hospital opening later in the year.

Angela Broekhuizen, Associate Director of Projects, said “We are now just a few months away from welcoming our first patient into our new hospital so every day we are one step closer to making that transition from bricks and mortar to creating a truly wonderful hospital”. Explaining how the equipment can improve patient care, Broekhuizen said “the equipment being installed is going into the resus area in the emergency centre and will provide three separate x-ray machines for on the spot treatment of emergency and trauma cases. This will allow critically injured patients to be x-rayed without moving them from the emergency resus area.”

Asteral has worked on the City Hospital project since 2004 and has already equipped Peterborough’s City Care Centre, run by NHS Peterborough. Asteral is responsible for procuring and maintaining 135 pieces of major clinical equipment – chosen from the full range of manufacturers – as well as the maintenance of several thousand items of smaller medical equipment. The service includes initial staff training, establishing an equipment library and a 24/7 response desk. Also included in Asteral’s responsibilities are the smooth transfer and relocation of many assets from the old hospital into the new buildings.

“It is very rewarding as we start to see all the plans really come to fruition after so much coordination from different teams” says Rob Avery, Peterborough Operations Manager for Asteral. “Right now we are installing equipment from GE, Phillips and Toshiba and we have equipment from other suppliers to come. Asteral can do that because we are the only vendor-independent MES company in the UK, and that allows us to ensure that the equipment chosen meets the needs of the local population. Our top priority now is to ensure that the new hospital will be fully operational from the day it opens.”

Leicester mammography upgrade goes live

The digital transformation of the mammography services at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust (UHL) has taken another leap forward as Asteral installed two key upgrades at Glenfield Hospital.

Asteral has installed two Hologic Selenia FFDM units at Glenfield with the first going live in March and the second in May. These installations complement the two GE units already installed by Asteral and mean that all four rooms at UHL’s Breast Care Centre at Glenfield Hospital are now completely digital.

Darren Woolley, Asteral’s General Manager at Leicester, who oversaw the procurement and installation for Asteral said, “UHL’s decision to upgrade their entire mammography service was accompanied by a clear brief to deliver equipment that would give much improved image quality and deliver a reliable service. Because we are vendor neutral, the Trust was able to choose from a range of manufacturers to get the best solution to fit their requirements so they could concentrate on achieving the highest quality care efficiently and reliably.”

Dr Elizabeth Denton, Clinical Director of Breast Screening said “the new digital equipment will significantly enhance the quality of service we offer, improving diagnostic accuracy through much sharper and more detailed images and possibly allowing us to reduce patients’ exposure to radiation. Asteral’s Managed Equipment Services played a major part in delivering this upgrade which will ensure a better service for patients and bring UHL Breast Imaging into the 21st century.”

The final stage in UHL’s digital transformation will be the provision of three new mobile digital breast screening trailers also equipped with Hologic Selenia FFDM units scheduled for delivery later this autumn. This will take Leicester to the cutting edge of cancer diagnostics consistent with the latest guidance from the DH and Advisory Committee on Breast Cancer Screening to move away from analogue to entirely digital mammography.

Peterborough sets sights on two GE Infinia Gamma Cameras

Two GE Infinia Gamma Cameras, including one equipped with SPECT C/T, have been ordered as part of Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s Managed Equipment Services partnership with Asteral.

These cameras are the latest in a large procurement programme from a range of manufacturers as Peterborough’s new acute hospital, integrated care centre and mental health unit are built and go live. Asteral procures, maintains, replaces and coordinates training for all of the major diagnostic and theatre equipment as part of the Progress Health partnership. In addition to the cameras, with an MRI from GE, an overhead gantry resuscitation room from Philips, a CT scanner, and digital fluoroscopy rooms from Toshiba, and three injectors from Medrad, Peterborough is fully benefiting from Asteral’s vendor independence ensuring it gets equipment that best fits its clinical needs.

Paul Crockatt, Radiology Projects Informatics Manager at Peterborough, said “the MES with Asteral is bringing a range of equipment from different manufacturers which allows us to optimise clinical need, operational efficiency and ultimately deliver results for patients. These new gamma cameras bring the fastest scan cycle in the industry, a more effective workflow and unparalleled clinical flexibility. All in all, this will help us deliver more accurate diagnoses, improved efficiency and ultimately a better patient experience”.

Leicester exceeds 99% uptime with Asteral

170 items of major medical equipment managed by Asteral under their partnership with University of Leicester Hospitals NHS Trust (UHL) have performed at over 99% uptime during the last 12 months.

In addition to the large volume of imaging and diagnostic equipment covering all the major modalities, Asteral manages robotic pharmacies as well as mobile trailers that assist UHL deliver care in the community. Asteral also procures new equipment, provides on-site maintenance and training.

Working across all three of the Trust’s hospitals, Asteral runs two Managed Equipment Services (MES) for the Trust. The first MES, which has run since May 2004, delivered an average equipment uptime of 99.77% across 62 items of equipment over the past 12 months. The second MES which includes older and more complex equipment has been operational since August 2007 and achieved an average uptime of 99.52%.

Ernie Thompson, Equipment and Contracts Manager at the Trust, explained that “scheduling procedures becomes far easier because we know we can rely on our equipment. In turn, delivering care becomes far more efficient across the Trust.”

Talking about the challenging operating environment facing the whole of the NHS over the next few years, Ernie Thompson added: “the MES arrangements are already helping us plan for the future because regardless of changes to capital budgets, we will be able to stick to our plans to install new state-of-the-art equipment while being flexible enough to meet the changes and demands of the financial climate. So the benefits go beyond operational efficiencies because we know we will continue to improve the quality of patient care we deliver year on year. We look to be more innovative in our joint approach to the equipment agenda to account for strategic changes and working with the wider healthcare community.”


Asteral installs latest prone table at the Whittington

Asteral, the medical equipment solutions company, has installed a MultiCareTM Platinum prone breast biopsy table at the Whittington Hospital NHS Trust.

The prone table, which is designed to maximise patient comfort while bringing the latest advances in stereotactic technology, was chosen by Trust staff with Asteral as part of its Managed Equipment Services arrangement. Its intuitive design and diagnostic capabilities make it the ideal system for characterization of calcifications, masses and architectural distortion.

Commenting on the installation Consultant Radiologist, Dr Ros Crooks, said “Because Asteral are vendor independent, we were able to work closely with them to select the table from a choice of providers and are delighted with the results.”

Accompanying photo showing from left to right:

  • Recep Suleyman – Radiology General Manager
  • Dr Ros Crooks – Consultant Radiologist
  • Dr Francesca Peters – Consultant Radiologist
  • Don Kalumpanun – Asst PACS Manager
  • Dr Ranjana Chaudhuri – Consultant Radiologist
  • Natasha Suvarna – Radiographer
  • Olufunke Idowu – Radiographer

Asteral celebrates its first anniversary at Peterborough

Asteral, the medical equipment solutions company, has completed its first year of operations at Peterborough, as part of its MES covering three new buildings for health services in the city. Asteral now services two of these completed buildings and assists in the design solution for the new PFI Peterborough City Hospital, which is currently under construction.

Its first year has seen the successful opening of The Cavell Center, a new mental health unit and the City Care Centre as well as the successful management of over 480 items of medical equipment. This includes the specification, procurement and installation of two fully equipped x-ray rooms each featuring a GE Definium 6000 and the installation of two GE Voluson 730 Expert ultrasounds.

Apart from one response desk phone call, which took more than 15 seconds to be answered, every one of Asteral’s extremely tight KPIs has been met and surpassed.

Operations Manager, Robert Avery, said that “we’ve been particularly pleased with the Trust’s reaction to achievements such as an average 99.99% uptime for the equipment we have installed so far.” But Avery explains that for Asteral, there is no time to pause, “next year will see the opening of Peterborough City Hospital, for which we will procure and install 130 major items of the building’s new equipment from many different manufacturers as well as managing around 8000 items of transferring medical equipment.”

Photo attached showing from left to right:

  • Julie Cook – Senior Radiographer and Clinical Lecturer
  • Rachael Boakes – Radiographer
  • Cheryl Finch – Radiology Care Assistant
  • Emma Wythe – Student Radiographer

Asteral delivers 99.55% uptime at Whittington

Latest figures from Asteral, the medical equipment solutions provider, show equipment provided to the Whittington Hospital NHS Trust had an average uptime of 99.55% during the last year.

Asteral’s Business development director, Sean Williams, explained that “the latest equipment uptime results at Whittington – 99.55% across all the equipment we manage at the hospital – proves our clients can rely on us to deliver extremely reliable, top quality, equipment at a low cost.”

Recep Suleyman, Imaging Services Manager at the Whittington Hospital NHS Trust, where uptime averaged 99.55% across 50 pieces of equipment, said “we were delighted to achieve these results. Because we can rely on the equipment to work well, we can complete all our scheduled work with fewer interruptions, treat patients quickly, and make best use of our clinicians’ time.”

Accompanying photo showing from left to right:

  • Mike Smith – Radiographer
  • Hugo Peebles – Radiographer
  • Julian Davidson – Radiographer
  • Sanjay Devji – Radiographer
  • Recep Suleyman – Imaging General manager

Leicester bites off another digital transformation

Asteral has completed another major installation at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust by installing a range of digital dental x-ray equipment as part of their Managed Equipment Services contract.

The latest round of equipment – a Kodak K8000C OPG/Ceph dental x-ray system and a Kodak K2200 Intra-Oral dental x-ray with CR7400 – has been installed at the Glenfield Hospital and completes the move to a totally digital solution across Leicester’s hospitals with other installations of Kodak equipment at the Leicester Royal Infirmary dating back to December 2007.

Nick Clark, Superintendent Radiographer at the Glenfield Hospital said “we worked closely with Asteral to identify the best equipment for our clinical requirements and we are delighted with the results. Having standardised equipment across our hospitals will improve safety and efficiency as clinicians who work across different sites will find the same state-of-the-art digital equipment wherever they go.”

Accompanying photo showing from left to right:

  • Safiyyah Sabat – Radiographer
  • Gill Hancock – Senior 1 Radiographer
  • Darren Woolley – Asteral General Manager
  • Lucy Lewis – Acting Superintendant Radiographer

Leicester upgrades Asteral’s MES

University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust (UHL) has announced a major equipment upgrade as part of their Managed Equipment Services (MES) partnership with Asteral.

This upgrade will transform Leicester’s mammography services to state-of-the art digital imaging technology. Four mammography suites located in the Trust’s hospitals will be upgraded as well as three mobile scanners and their trailers allowing UHL to reach out into the community.

The move comes just over two years after the scheme went live. The contract is the largest stand alone MES contract in Europe, and the latest development adds over £700,000 of additional equipment value to the scheme. Asteral, which manages 176 assets on behalf of UHL has replaced 81 of them since going live.

Director of Strategy for the Trust, Abigail Tierney, said “the MES has already shown that a more efficient way of working really does improve patient care. Average equipment uptime in the last financial year was an exceptional 99.37% and that has helped make it possible for us to achieve dramatic reductions in waiting times. We have included the digital mammography suites in the scope of the project because we wanted to see those results reach across more of our services.”

Managing Director, David Rolfe explained “the objective of the upgrade is to ensure that all the mammography services at the Trust will use the latest digital technology. Because we are vendor-independent, we will now work closely with the Trust to identify which manufacturer’s equipment will best fit their requirements. We’ve already upgraded two suites at the Glenfield Hospital and we will now deliver a similar level of service in the other suites in the Trust. UHL is serious about taking care closer to patients’ homes, so we will also be replacing their mobile breast screening facilities with the latest digital technology.”

Accompanying photo showing from left to right:

  • Gill Gibbard – Senior Radiographer, UHL Staff
  • Heraklis Skannavis – Asteral Engineer
  • Marianne Phillips – Asteral Leicester Office Manager
  • Denise Benn – Senior Radiographer