Belfast’s pioneering Managed Equipment Services Contract
A successful long-term MES partnership between Medipass Healthcare and the Belfast Health & Social Care Trust is celebrating its 10th Anniversary this year. Wholly unique at the time it was developed, the partnership brought together all major items of radiotherapy and diagnostic imaging equipment under a single Managed Equipment Services contract. This pioneering move has allowed not only expansion of the Trust’s fleet of linear accelerators, key in the treatment of cancer, but also expansion of its capabilities so as to provide new treatments unavailable to the population of Northern Ireland until now.
The Cancer Centre opened on the 20th of March 2006 with 8 Varian Clinacs. The project also involved a fully integrated Varian ARIA network as well as an Acuity Simulator, a GE Lightspeed RT CT Simulator and a Nucletron (now Elekta) Integrated Brachytherapy Unit. Since 2011 radiotherapy has been undergoing an expansion programme driven by a growing need for cancer treatment services in Northern Ireland. The fleet has been extended and now consists of 10 linear accelerators with an additional 6 replacements coming up
Most notably, Belfast now one of the most advanced linear accelerators in the. This system is paving the way for the introduction of a Stereotactic Radiosurgery Service, the first of its kind in Northern Ireland. Keeping pace with technology has enabled implementation of such advanced radiotherapy techniques as the introduction of SABR and the current development of a neuro-stereotactic service.
This new equipment has provided more clinical options for the Cancer Centre in treating complex cancer cases including lung, breast, liver, abdomen, head and neck. The synchronised imaging and delivery of treatment has also improved speed and efficiency of radiotherapy treatments. The added imaging functionality can allow for 25% less dose in some cases and the TrueBeam also provides pinpoint accuracy, minimizing damage to surrounding tissue.
Expansion of capacity and upgrading of technology in both radiotherapy and radiology departments continues to improve access to cancer services and promote wider participation in cancer clinical trials.
The clinical team at Belfast was recently awarded the national Quality in Care (QiC) Oncology ‘Cancer Team Collaboration Initiative of the Year’ for establishment of its SABR lung programme. Peer support for this initiative came from colleagues at Leeds Hospital. Judges commended the teams’ success on this achievement between two hospitals in very different geographical locations.