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12 Feb 21. EIF & COVID: a year in review

Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, the Edinburgh Imaging facilities & staff adjusted nimbly to new pressures & have emerged with a leaner operating model, delivering a greater number of scans than before the COVID-19 era. 

EIA activity in 2020. Note the impact of COVID-19 in March, April & May followed by recovery & remarkable increase, in scanning volumes thanks to rapid implementation of a response by the EI team!
EIA activity in 2020. Note the impact of COVID-19 in March, April & May followed by recovery & remarkable increase, in scanning volumes thanks to rapid implementation of a response by the EI team!

Edinburgh Imaging is a partnership between the University of Edinburgh (UoE) & NHS Lothian (NHSL).

EI operates two facilities that house cutting-edge advanced imaging equipment, associated laboratories & a highly skilled specialist workforce from diverse disciplines.

Prior to March 2020, Edinburgh Imaging delivered approximately 600 scans per month for its three main users:

  • Academic researchers
  • Clinical diagnostics
  • Commercial imagers

The COVID-19 lockdown had a huge impact on the EI scanning throughput: academic research largely halted worldwide.

On the other hand, critical NHSL diagnostic services needed ongoing urgent sustenance.

Throughout the COVID-19 lockdown, Edinburgh Imaging continued to deliver these clinical services (e.g. PET-CT cancer & MR diagnostic scanning). Operational staff remained working within our facilities to do so (e.g. radiographers, medical physicists plus radiochemistry scientists, technicians & radiologists).

The UoE & NHSL teams worked side-by-side, to innovate rapidly, working out:

  • new shift patterns
  • safe patient flow patterns
  • workplace set ups
  • travel to & from work
  • provision of personal protective equipment (PPE)

With the operational teams still working, the professional service & management teams supporting them, also had to innovate to continue their support & leadership, often remotely, by providing key underpinning services:

  • IT
  • financial transactions
  • HR support

As the COVID-19 crisis developed, UoE & NHSL agreed to set up & expand NHSL activities delivered from Edinburgh Imaging facilities. This was to mutual benefit:

  • unused Edinburgh Imaging research imaging capacity could serve to support NHSL diagnostic services
  • NHSL diagnostic services, displaced from the hard-pressed NHSL facilities, could be carried out to limit delays & diagnoses

This required close & intense coordination between UoE & NHSL e.g. of schedules, of patient booking, of radiology reporting & of resource provision. We performed this whilst adapting to changing guidance on social distancing restrictions, staff safety & protection.

Within a few weeks, Edinburgh Imaging rapidly accommodated the NHSL urgent diagnostic scanning requirements, while also maintaining scanning for COVID-approved research.

Since then, as non-COVID approved research activity has resumed, Edinburgh Imaging has been able to provide ongoing support for NHSL scanning, with the aim of maximising use of available imaging capacity & minimizing wastage of scanning opportunities.

Delivering this more recent model of “increased capacity” required the Edinburgh Imaging teams to innovate once again: existing resources were redeployed to extend working hours & to improve operational efficiency.

By October 2020, Edinburgh Imaging had increased the scan numbers it performs by 50%, compared to pre-COVID-19 levels. These scans were a mix of:

  • world-leading research
  • cutting-edge specialist NHS diagnostic activities
  • commercially focused scanning

The crisis has brought out the best in our staff: the activity graph for EI in 2020 clearly shows the delivery of exceptional service in supporting the University, our partners & society in their moment of need.

 

Be sure to read our many news items published throughout 2020, highlighting staff achievements, academic research, featured papers & much more.

 

 

Social media tags & titles

Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, the Edinburgh Imaging facilities & staff adjusted nimbly to new pressures & have emerged with a leaner operating model, delivering a greater number of scans than before the COVID-19 era.

@EdinburghUni @EdinUniMedicine @EdinUniCVS @EdinUniBrainSci @NHS_Lothian @SINAPSECENTRE @MarcDweck @imagingmedsci @fergusdoubal