HFMA Annual Conference 2016

Asteral enjoyed yet another successful exhibition at HFMA’s Annual Conference, which took place between Wednesday 7th and Friday 9th December 2016 at the Hilton London Metropole, where more than 600 delegates attended.

The three-day event was opened by motivational success speaker – Joy Marsden, and was this year themed ‘Step Up’. Delegates attended workshops and seminars focused on how the NHS could step up to 2020 and beyond. The Asteral team used the opportunity to promote primarily Asteral Select services, a vendor-independent managed service that reduces costs to Trusts by at least 15% per year less than self-providing the same services. It was also a great opportunity to spread brand awareness to people visiting the stand wanting to learn more about Asteral. The majority of these visitors being those who work in Finance departments in the NHS, working with restricted budgets and therefore exploring innovative ways to save money.

The conference concluded on the Friday afternoon, with the exhibition prize draw which took place on Asteral’s stand with the lucky winners receiving prizes from holiday vouchers to champagne hampers.

Asteral delivers the first of three linear accelerators to Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Asteral has delivered the first of three Linear Accelerators to the Royal Derby Hospital. Once complete, Asteral will have replaced three old systems, all with Varian TrueBeam units as well as having completely refurbished the bunkers and control rooms within the 22-month schedule.

The Linear Accelerator replacement started on 18th January; with the first of three old systems being decommissioned. The first TrueBeam has now been delivered with the initial installation complete, ahead of schedule. Secondary commission is now beginning. The aim is for the new Varian system to go live for treatment in August 2016. The decommissioning of the second system will commence in September.

This is the first fixed item delivered to Derby as part of their Asteral Select contract, and it follows on from an extensive design and build programme managed by Asteral’s Implementation Team. Asteral is distinctive in having a dedicated in-house design and implementation team who will work with your estates and clinical departments to plan and project-manage the installation, commissioning and training on all equipment, as well as associated build enabling works.

Kevin Downs, Derby Teaching Hospitals’ Director of Finance and Performance stated: “Following the successful introduction of our Managed Equipment Service by Asteral in April 2015, the Trust has experienced a general improvement in equipment availability and less downtime across the spectrum.

We are now pleased to announce that during the first quarter of 2016 Asteral has, in conjunction with the staff in our Radiotherapy Department, successfully replaced the first of our Linear Accelerator machines with new Varian Radiotherapy machinery to enhance our patient treatment services. This has been accomplished with no disruption to the delivery of the current level of patient services while the programme has been undertaken and now leaves the Trust better placed to deliver improved patient services into the future.”

The new systems will allow the Trust to tailor treatment of cancer patients to a higher degree of accuracy and effectiveness. The Asteral Select contract has benefitted the Trust as it has allowed the Trust’s staff to continue to focus on patient care and to deliver patient treatment with the latest technology available.

New Asteral Select contract with Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Asteral is pleased to announce a partnership with Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, in which it will provide diagnostic imaging and radiotherapy managed equipment.

The 10-year Asteral Select contract, which has an optional 10-year extension, will include the robust management and high-quality maintenance of four linear accelerators and more than 160 radiology assets through the single point of contact Asteral Service Centre; the provision of a clinical consumables service; and a significant asset replacement programme which will see 18 new systems delivered by the end of the year.

Two fully-equipped mammography trailers have already been delivered to the Royal Derby Hospital, and several other state-of-the art clinical systems will be handed over before the end of the year. These include eight ultrasounds, a linear accelerator and associated oncology management and treatment planning systems, six x-ray systems and a gamma camera. All have been selected on a vendor-independent basis.

Derby Teaching Hospitals works to an ethos of ‘Taking Pride in Caring’, and aims to be a beacon for all that is best in 21st century healthcare. Asteral believes this contract supports that vision.

Kevin Downs, Director of Finance and Performance for the Trust, said: “We are delighted that the managed equipment service has now gone live and that staff and patients are benefitting from the investment in new technology – an investment made possible due to the financial savings achieved through a long-term partnership with the UK’s leading vendor-independent MES provider.”

Stephen Hodgson, Asteral’s Managing Director, commented: “Asteral is delighted to have Derby as our latest managed equipment service customer. We share the Trust’s vision of taking pride in the service we deliver and epitomising quality.  Our Asteral Select service is an industry-leading solution that will support Derby deliver a safe, high-performing and efficient patient service.”

5 years of Peterborough City Hospital


Peterborough City Hospital, part of Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, celebrated its 5-year anniversary this month, with a fun-filled, family-friendly open day held for the public on Saturday 21st November.  More than 600 people attended the event where staff gave their time for free to showcase each department’s success to members of the public.

The day allowed visitors to enter parts of the hospital which are usually prohibited, giving them a ‘behind the scenes’ look into how different parts of the hospital operate.  A number of activities took place throughout the day, including a giant game of Operation, lessons in taking blood, and children were encouraged to bring their teddies to the teddy bear clinic where they could have them x-rayed by the diagnostic imaging team.  Funded by Asteral, cakes, stickers and booklets were also given out to guests.

Asteral is proud to have sponsored the hospital’s celebrations having worked with the hospital since before it opened in November 2010.  Asteral inputted into the design of all Radiology rooms, and ensured there was a smooth transfer and relocation of assets from Peterborough District Hospital.  Asteral continues to deliver a managed equipment service replacing multiple pieces of diagnostic imaging, radiotherapy and biomed equipment on pre-agreed lifecycles, delivering all planned preventative and reactive maintenance, as well as managing the on-site biomed team – all examples of the flexibility of an Asteral Select contract.

Asteral’s solutions can help drive down NHS procurement costs

As a recent report by Ernst and Young shows price variations of as much as 300% across some NHS Trusts, Asteral offers solutions to some of the biggest procurement challenges facing the NHS.

In February 2011 the National Audit Office concluded that better procurement could save the Health Service half a billion pounds a year and a recent study by Ernst and Young highlighted that approximately £500 million a year is being lost due to poor procurement processes and decisions. Ernst and Young spokesman, Joe Stringer, commented that the findings raised ‘…concerns about price variation and spending in the procurement of NHS suppliers.’ The report further highlighted that prices paid for basic hospital supplies and services varied by as much as 300% depending on the Trust.

The National Audit Office and Public Accounts Committee have both similarly criticised that ‘opportunities for efficiencies’ were being missed due to the new Foundation Trust status meaning hospitals procure their supplies more independently. The danger of this comes where a Trust has paid a higher price for the same equipment and will then continue to be charged higher prices instead of a fair price being tailored to the Trust’s requirements.

Jason Long, Asteral’s Business Development Director, understands these concerns and comments; “Price variation throughout the NHS is an issue which is having a profound effect on what are strained and dwindling budgets. In order to make significant savings Trusts need to evaluate procurement processes and consider other more cost-effective options. Asteral understands the challenges that Trusts are facing in the new NHS economy which is why we created a portfolio of highly-focused solutions that aim to address the current clinical and financial challenges. These solutions deliver significant cost savings and improve equipment performance & lifecycle management leaving staff free to focus on patient care and treatment.”

Asteral’s Chief Executive, Christopher Langley comments further; “As one of the UK’s leading independent buyers and providers of medical equipment, consumables and maintenance services, Asteral leverages significant buying power helping us achieve lowest possible prices from all manufacturers and pass these cost savings onto our customers. Asteral’s simple, transparent managed service approach is a viable and highly effective technique for generating savings and efficiencies within the NHS.”

Asteral’s Service Centre achieves equipment uptimes in excess of 99%

From 1st May 2011 to 30th April 2012, Asteral’s Service Centre continued to outperformed industry standards and ensured all our Select and Protect customers received medical equipment uptimes in excess of 99%.

All of Asteral’s Select and Protect services are underpinned by the Asteral Service Centre, which provides a single point of contact 24-hours a day, 365-days a year, and performance manages the delivery of all planned preventative and reactive maintenance, and handles all service queries. Asteral’s Service Centre provides a high degree of simplification for our NHS customers with one telephone number to access all services allowing clinical staff to focus on delivering patient care, whilst being provided with regular and reliable updates.

Asteral’s Service Centre is responsible for the management and progression of all reactive maintenance and provides Trust staff with up-to-date information on fault rectification. All fault-reporting calls are proactively progressed from receipt until the successful closure of the corresponding corrective maintenance. By effective management of maintenance providers, Asteral increases equipment uptime. Asteral’s Service Centre function employs a bespoke integrated medical equipment management database within which jobs are automatically raised as a new call is received. Operators are specifically trained in medical equipment and provide a knowledgeable interface between the Trust, original equipment manufacturers and third party suppliers.

1st May 2011 to 30th April 2012 Equipment Uptimes

University Hospitals Of Leicester: 99.47%
The Whittington Hospital: 99.44%
Barts Health (Whipps Cross Hospital): 99.94%
Peterborough & Stamford Hospitals: 99.47%
Kingston Hospital: 99.97%
The Hillingdon Hospitals: 99.84% (contract start 1st January 2012)
Hospital Of St John & St Elizabeth: 99.59%
King Edward VII’s Hospital: 99.92%

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.”

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”.

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