NHS Blackpool has implemented a new Agfa PACS system that enable staff working at the town’s state of the art new polyclinic to access and share diagnostic image records with staff at the local hospital trust.

Implemented as an extension of Blackpool, Flyde and Wyre Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s existing Agfa Impax PACS, the new system will allow authorised staff working in primary care, community and acute care settings to far more easily share diagnostic image records with health professionals from.

As a result primary and secondary care imaging is now available within both sectors, providing clinicians to easy access to a patient’s entire diagnostic imaging records, no matter where they are working.

Whitegate Health Centre is a new Darzi-style polyclinic in central Blackpool has become the first to benefit from the new system. The £20m health centre was opened by Secretary of State for Health Andy Burnham last month.

The centre has been fitted with a range of hi-tech diagnostic tools, including one of only a few MRI scanners in a primary care centre in the country, as well as ultrasound suites and a state-of-the-art X-ray facility which delivers a detailed image within ten seconds.

The new health centre, which was commissioned by NHS Blackpool, also houses a GP Practice, a GP-led health centre, a walk-in centre, dental services and diagnostics.

To enable seamless sharing of diagnostic images the centre has been equipped with Agfa Healthcare’s Impax picture archiving and communications system (PACS), implemented as an extension to the hospital trust’s existing PACS, first installed in 2001. The new deployment includes an additional workflow manager, image storage and a diagnostic reporting workstation.

Images needed by staff working at the Whitegate Health Centre are stored onto a SAN server located in the health centre and then copied to long-term storage and web servers that form part of the acute trust’s PACS.

Because the images are stored within the hospital’s PACS system they are then available for viewing at any of the six sites covered by the trust, where they can be accessed by using any one of the 26 diagnostic workstations or 4,500 networked PCs within the hospital trust and NHS Blackpool.

Richard Day, PACS manager at NHS Blackpool, said, “We are looking forward to providing the best possible imaging service for patients and welcome the opportunity to extend our PACS into the primary care sector.”

Day added: “In addition to giving authorised healthcare professionals working in the new Whitegate Health Centre access to stored images , we could also look to extend this to any other GP surgeries or health centres should they request it.”

Stewart Whitely, radiology advisor at the Whitegate Health Centre, added: “We are delighted with the new PACS system that Agfa Healthcare has installed within the unit. It has significantly increased the entire local area’s capacity and it will help reduce the strain on Blackpool’s Victoria Hospital and allow NHS Blackpool to develop new pathways.”