A consortium of 11 trusts in Cheshire and Merseyside has installed a new picture and archiving communication system from Carestream on a five-year contract.

The trusts joined forces for the procurement because they wanted to be able to share images more easily.

Peter Rowlands, consultant radiologist at Royal Liverpool University Hospital and clinical lead in the consortium, said that patients often moved between different hospitals and clinics for scans.

“Image-sharing has always been a problem for us, in that the patient and the images were often in the wrong place, and there was a huge industry of initially sending CDs from place to place and then subsequently emailing scans.”

The process was time-consuming and often inefficient, he said. “It was a completely manual process, so a patient going to a clinic from a hospital would have to request the scans to be sent.

"Sometimes that didn’t happen and patients would turn up and they’d have to be rebooked. It was a real logistical nightmare trying to keep on top of that.”

The consortium went live with the Carestream PACS in May this year. The new PACS replaced a GE PACS put in place as part of the National Programme for IT in the NHS.

It also implemented a new radiology information system from HSS in Janaury. Rowlands said that new PACS had already delivered improvements.

“We’re seeing instant benefits in terms of image transfer, where the workload has dropped off significantly,” he said.

The trusts are considering introducing mobile devices, so that clinicians can see PACS images while on the ward and radiologists can access images remotely.