Consultations around challenges facing nuclear medicine - column by Laura White, head of nuclear medicine at United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust

Last month, we began a consultation exercise to listen to people’s views about how we should deliver our nuclear medicine service in Lincolnshire’s hospitals to ensure a robust, sustainable service, after years of the service facing significant challenges.

Laura White, head of nuclear medicine at United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust
Laura White, head of nuclear medicine at United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust

Nuclear medicine is a specialist imaging technique involving the administration of radioactive substances (called radiopharmaceuticals) in the diagnosis and treatment of disease.

These are most commonly bone scans and heart scans.

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At the moment, we provide nuclear medicine from three hospitals in Lincolnshire, Lincoln County Hospital, Grantham and District Hospital and Pilgrim Hospital, Boston, and we see around 2,500 patients per year.

The service has long faced challenges around staffing, aging equipment and sustainability, and therefore it has been deemed unsustainable in its current format.

These challenges mirror the problems seen in the nuclear medicine community nationally.

Our 12-week public consultation is looking at options to reduce the number of hospital sites that the service could be delivered from in future.

These options have been developed by our service leaders and shaped by patient representatives on our patient panel.

The options are:

Option one: Centralisation of the service at Lincoln

Option two: Centralisation of the service at two sites – Lincoln and Pilgrim

While we know that centralising our service at one or two hospital sites rather than three, may mean that some patients have to travel further for their tests, we believe this is the best option to ensure a sustainable and efficient service for the future.

We also believe that better use of our resources will mean that we can invest in and explore more nuclear medicine treatments in Lincolnshire in future.

Which should mean more patients can be treated in Lincolnshire rather than having to travel outside the county for some tests.

The public consultation runs until Monday, May 23 2022.

Everyone is being invited to have a say as part of it, to help inform a final decision.

To take part, please see the consultation web page where you can fill in our survey.

Or find out about our consultation events – both virtual and face-to-face.