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NHS Midlands radiology training gets £1.28million AI upgrade at UHNM

Patients and clinicians across the Midlands – and potentially across England – are to benefit from a £1.28million AI upgrade to radiology training facilities at UHNM.

NHS England Midlands provided the funding to develop a new training model at the Midlands Imaging Training Academy (MITA) which has been created at the Postgraduate Medical Centre at County Hospital, Stafford.

The training facility means one consultant can simultaneously train and supervise learners across all regional academy sites, giving other consultants more time to spend with patients.  

The new electronics and picture archiving suite (EPACS) is also being piloted as a platform to develop AI learning and cooperation in imaging academies, with eye tracking teaching the AI algorithms based on human behaviours.

Using the newly installed XRNET high speed education network and state of the art EPACS workstations, it’s now possible for remote trainers to teach and observe trainees in real-time and to link education facilities and other national academies to share and collaborate using high-definition imaging.

When used with the already successful extended reality lab (ERL) at the County PGMC, trainees could be immersed in different spaces such as an MRI scanning suite or an A&E ward, providing lifelike, high-quality simulation training to teams of clinicians.

Dr Ingrid Britton, Midlands Imaging Training Academy Director and UHNM Gastrointestinal Radiologist, said: “The investment from NHS England has allowed us to upgrade our facilities to provide state of the art imaging training to our imaging staff, with the potential to link classrooms across the Midlands. This expands the capacity for training and has allowed us to increase the number of trainees providing diagnostic and therapeutic services to patients on emergency, elective and cancer pathways.

“The new simulation facilities for ultrasound supervision, CT and vascular diagnostic and interventional procedural work provide excellent learning practice to get students work ready for the fast-paced clinical environment.”

Tracy Bullock, UHNM Chief Executive, said: “We are delighted to be able to host these state-of-the-art facilities at our County Hospital and to launch them during our week long 40th anniversary celebrations of the hospital.

“To have a region-wide educational facility for all Midlands imagining trainees will help put County Hospital and its position as leading the way for education and simulation firmly on the map.”

Tom Kirkbride, Joint Director for Workforce, Training and Education at NHS England – Midlands, said: “This training model is a huge benefit to patients and we expect it to have a positive impact on winter pressures, as more of our imaging workforce can be trained by fewer consultants across a large geographical area, freeing up other consultants to have more time for patient care.”