Althea has now completed the installation of three brand new linear accelerators at the Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, giving the Radiotherapy department at the Royal Derby Hospital something to boast about. As well as the new systems installations, Althea also managed the decommissioning of the three old radiotherapy systems and completely refurbished the bunkers and control rooms around each of them.

The replacement plan started in January 2016 with the review of the trust’s equipment specification and requirements provided at the beginning of the 10-year Althea managed service contract. This supported the design and build programme managed by Althea’s Implementation and Technology Team, who are experts in equipment planning, procuring, designing, building and installing. The team worked with the trust’s estates and clinical departments to manage the projects from start to finish.

Althea says that the third of three new systems has now been installed and is ready for clinical use. As well as the three new Varian TrueBeam units, the trust has also purchased an ARIA® Oncology Information System and an Eclipse Treatment Planning System. ARIA is a comprehensive information and image management solution that combines radiation, medical and surgical oncology information into a complete, oncology-specific electronic medical record, allowing the user to manage their patient’s entire journey from initial diagnosis to post-treatment follow-up.

With an intuitive Windows-based interface, designed to increase productivity for clinicians using simplified data settings and easy drag and drop functionality. With the trust’s new Varian kit, Eclipse works hand- in-hand with the ARIA oncology information system making workflow smooth, integrated and seamless.

With the three new pieces of equipment now in place, supporting the trust’s highly-skilled and multidisciplinary teams to allow them to further their treatment to cancer patients at a standard higher than ever. We spoke to several people involved in the project as well as staff who have day-to-day interaction with the new systems to see how they have benefitted:

Kevin Downs, Director of Finance and Performance, says: “The managed equipment service has allowed us to gain greater value from equipment required by the trust to deliver patient care by enabling us to obtain the most up to date equipment, at the required time for replacement and at a better value.”

Lorna MacDonald, Radiotherapy Services Manager, says: “Since installing the first of three new Varian TrueBeams, the reliability of the equipment in Derby has improved, with a significant fall in the number of cancelled appointments due to breakdown.

“We are pleased with the improvement that the new machines have made to the service we offer our patients and the advanced technologies associated with the equipment means we are now able to offer our patients cutting-edge treatments, such as ‘plan of the day’ for bladder patients. The partnership of Althea and Derby Teaching Hospitals’ Radiotherapy Department means that we, as a clinical department, are able to concentrate on our patients and developing new technologies, leaving Althea to deal with the logistics of machine servicing and breakdowns.”

Gordon Galloway, Head of Radiotherapy Physics, says: “Not only has the Althea managed equipment service provided us with three state of the art radiotherapy treatment units, it has also given us a networked Oncology Management System and treatment planning infrastructure running over a Citrix network, allowing Radiotherapy staff to make optimal use of the new technology. Remote access for contouring, treatment planning, and plan adaption allows us to get patients on to treatment in the most efficient way, and to ensure any changes during treatment are managed in an optimal fashion.”

Mike Carr, General Manager, adds: “Althea have been with us every step of the way through our recent equipment replacement programme and that partnership has enabled the department to install three new linear accelerators seamlessly and to schedule. Installation of the new treatment machines has seen not only an increase in reliability but a huge advancement in treatment techniques with the introduction of adaptive Radiotherapy and on-line image guidance.”

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