A consortium of NHS trusts have signed a deal with imaging technology provider Sectra to improve access to diagnostic imaging.

The deal covers Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust; Isle of Wight NHS Trust; Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust; Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust and University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust and aims to simplify working across regions.

Millions of images will be accessible through the cloud-based vendor neutral archive (VNA) system, freeing up resource and equipment from trusts’ who were previously individually responsible for image management.

The trusts will have access to a new shared multimedia archive will also allow the trusts to accelerate ambitions for initiatives, including artificial intelligence.

Mark Gardner, picture archiving and communication system manager at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “Moving to Sectra’s VNA will be a big win. We will be able to administer, store and make available millions of images, of different types and from different disciplines, from hospitals across our region, all in a single place without the burden of having to manage infrastructure.”

Sectra will use its cloud to securely store the new region-wide archive and to host its picture archiving and communication system (PACS) – a tool already used by radiology professionals in the consortium to interrogate diagnostic images.

Dr Mark Griffiths, paediatric radiologist and clinical lead for the consortium, know as SWASH, said: “That will be a game changer – to not just see local imaging, but to understand imaging has occurred for patients who move across borders and services, and to be able to access that imaging myself as a clinician, without needing to ask someone else who might not be in the office at the time.

“This creates a wealth of data for purposes such as AI data for training algorithms needs to be appropriate and validated.

“We won’t simply be throwing data at AI, but by having a modern collective data source as a consortium we can use our size to help with the validation and governance around using AI.”

In early 2020, the consortium signed an eight-year contract with Sectra that would see a single instance of its PACS delivered across all of the trusts.

Jane Rendall, managing director UK and Ireland at Sectra, added: “SWASH is one of our longest standing partners, and we are proud to continue to provide the tools to advance their imaging strategies that are ultimately focused on delivering better patient outcomes.”