Healthy Prospects for Northern Ireland First

Oct 14, 2004

An innovative new business, the first of its kind in Northern Ireland, is helping to speed up diagnosis of a range of illnesses, and cut NHS waiting lists.

An innovative new business, the first of its kind in Northern Ireland, is helping to speed up diagnosis of a range of illnesses, and cut NHS waiting lists.

The Scancentre in Coleraine offers commercial health scanning, giving people the chance to have a private MRI scan through referral from the medical profession.

Up until now MRI scans have only been available in hospitals in Northern Ireland, through a referral from a consultant, and are subject to long waiting lists.
MRI scans are used to diagnose a range of conditions including multiple sclerosis, tumours, infections in the brain, spine or joints, torn ligaments, cysts and can even be used to diagnose early stage strokes.
The highly sophisticated technology allows the tissue in a patient's body to be examined point by point, and then builds up a 2-D or 3-D image. The image is then interpreted by a radiologist.
Michael Wilson is the director of the centre. He says: “I was aware of the huge problem which existed because of long waiting times for MRI scans in hospitals. Because referrals for an MRI scan currently come through consultants, people sometimes have to wait for years to be scanned and that can have serious repercussions for their health.

“We can offer a patient a scan and a report within a few days and that means they can start treatment a lot earlier.“

In the USA and Europe, private scanning is commonplace and is not confined to hospitals.

“We can show that the NHS could save money if GPs were able to refer patients for scanning,” adds Michael Wilson, who is planning to expand the business in the near future.

The Scancentre employs three experienced radiographers and has recently launched its website which offers online booking of appointments.

Invest Northern Ireland worked with the company to help it set up and begin trading last October. It has supported the company in developing its marketing plan and management information system and enabled it to strengthen its management team through offering a management salary grant.

Eddie Friel, client executive in Invest NI’s northwest office says: “Michael Wilson is a successful entrepreneur and is involved in a number of business ventures. He spotted a gap in the market for commercial health scanning and has moved to fill it, very quickly making it a success.

“As well as servicing the Northern Ireland market the Scancentre attracts clients from the Republic of Ireland and has the potential to increase this export dimension. Invest NI is keen to support this kind of innovative business which is creating high quality jobs.“

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