The Scottish Executive has announced that national deployment of Picture Archiving and Communications Systems (PACS) across Scotland will begin this month after successful pilots in hospitals across Glasgow and Dumfries and Galloway.


Over the next two years every hospital in Scotland will receive a new system from Carestream Health [formerly Kodak Health], which will eventually lead to a national database of digital x-ray images for every Scottish citizen.


A Scottish Executive spokesperson told E-Health Insider: “The national PACS programme is to support the seamless acquisition, storage, retrieval and display of digital patient images within and between clinical sites across Scotland. To enable this, the national archive will support access for sites that do not have the national PACS solution.

“The introduction of PACS in NHS Scotland enables the delivery of a range of benefits to patients. Clinicians will be able to access images taken at stages along pathways and readily access relevant patient records. This will streamline care and speed up diagnosis and treatment.”

The system is in place at hospitals across Scotland including the Southern General, Victoria Infirmary, Gartnavel General, Royal Hospital for Sick Children and, just recently, the Western.

Dr Andrew Downie, consultant radiologist at Glasgow’s Victoria Infirmary has been using the new system since it was installed last September. He said: “The main advantage of this system is the fact images are available at the touch of a button when you need them.

“No more reliance on just one film copy of an x-ray or scan or wasting time waiting on an image that is in use in another part of the hospital. With the new Pacs system, we no longer have these problems and have all our patients’ medical images available at the click of a mouse.”

A spokesman for NHS Dumfries and Galloway added: “NHS Dumfries and Galloway was selected as an “early implementer” for the introduction nationally of PACS technology.

They added: “The technology is already having a positive impact on the effectiveness and efficiency of the service allowing digital film technology and transmission of x-rays more quickly as an aid to diagnosis and treatment.”

The current deployment plan projects the final PACS deployments occurring in January 2009, however the national project team is working closely with the boards to draw this date in, and the Scottish Executive are confident that the success of the pilot sites will encourage further investment.

Graeme Allan, regional general manager of healthcare information solutions in Europe, Africa and Middle East Region, at Carestream Health, told EHI: “The successful implementation at Glasgow’s Southern General Hospital and Victoria Infirmary establishes a significant milestone in the Scotland PACS Project, the first national level programme in Europe to reach implementation stage.

“The Scotland solution offers genuine integration by means of a common IT system for all hospitals and satellite centres. Authorised users at every hospital across the country can access prior images and reports, regardless of where they were generated, making it a true national archive from where images can be shared across the whole of the country. Carestream Health is scheduled to complete deployment in 2008, including a number of health boards also contracting to integrate our RIS solution with the PACS.”

In Glasgow, the Health Board is confident that the new systems will help to save money, despite the initial investment costs.

Jim Crombie, director of diagnostics led the project for Glasgow and Clyde and has overseen the successful project delivery to date. He said: “This is a major change in the way x-rays are stored but from a clinical and patient perspective it will revolutionise the way radiologists work. This investment by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde means that the imaging provision across our board area is at the cutting edge of technology and establishes our services as leading the way in Scotland.

“From a financial point of view the initial cost of installing the system is about £3.1m but with the savings on x-rays film of around £900K per annum, we expect the new system will pay for itself in the next four years.”

The Scottish Executive said they were pleased to see the pilots run smoothly and believe more health boards will see that the benefits outweigh the costs.

“PACS offers the opportunity for radiology reporting to be done remotely, utilising telemedicine and potentially facilitating much more flexible working of radiologists who will be able to access images on a 24-hour, seven day a week basis,” a spokesperson said.


Scottish Executive 

Carestream Health