UK hospital estimates it spent $3M a year renting vital MRI equipment

The County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust in England announced this week it had been spending between £2 million and £2.5 million—up to $3.2 million in U.S. dollars—each year to rent MRI scanning equipment from a private company, according to the Northern Echo.

A fundraising appeal has since allowed the trust to discontinue their services with Alliance Medical and install permanent Philips machines at both Bishop Auckland Hospital and Darlington Memorial Hospital, the Echo reported. A previous study of the trust’s finances had found the most cost-effective way to image patients was with an in-house service.

“As the numbers of patients being scanned increases, the cost-per-case when provided internally decreases, making best use of taxpayers’ money,” a spokeswoman for the trust told the Echo. “Bringing the service in-house also gives us control over opening hours, staff recruitment and development and much more.”

The spokeswoman said an MRI machine is the most expensive piece of equipment most trusts own, but the fact that scans doubled between 2010 and 2012, reaching a yearly rate of around 23,663, meant it was time to invest.

“Our contract with Alliance Medical meant that we paid them on a scan-by-scan basis, so the annual cost fluctuated from around £2 million to £2.5 million per year covering both Darlington Memorial Hospital and Bishop Auckland Hospital,” she said.

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