How mobile digital x-ray machines can help babies born at our hospitals

Walking into the neonatal unit at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital and you are greeted with a warm welcome and a quiet sense of calm despite the very urgent medical care which is going on around you.

It is a place no new parent wants to find themselves as they visit their tiny babies but they are supported by the dedicated staff working round-the-clock to help their children thrive. Between 500 and 600 babies are admitted to this unit at GRH every year and it is one of the largest of its kind in the country. When treating premature and sick full-term babies, every second counts and new equipment would help to speed up the treatment they receive.

Cheltenham and Gloucester Hospitals Charity has launched an appeal to buy two new digital x-ray machines which will be used by the neonatal unit and other departments. Dr Simon Pirie, neonatal consultant at Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Trust, said the digital technology would make a real difference to the speed at which they can treat babies.

“In my neonatal intensive care work, we look after very preterm babies and very sick term babies as well, so we are dealing with the most unwell and unstable babies,” he said.

“One of the things we have to do is place central lines in them to deliver really life-saving medications and fluids to these little infants.

“When we put the lines in, we then need to check the position is OK and we use an x-ray to do this.

“What happens now is that an x-ray is requested, we wait for the radiographers to come up and take the x-ray, take away the plates and process them so we can then look at them on a computer and make our clinical decisions.

“With the mobile digital x-ray machines, we can actually see the images that are taken straight away which is really important.”

“With the mobile digital x-ray machines, we can actually see the images that are taken straight away which is really important.”

Dr Simon Pirie

He said it can take upwards of 20 to 30 minutes for a traditional x-ray to be processed currently.

“We recently had an example of a very sick baby who had one access point, we put the central line in and this baby was not improving. The sugar levels and blood pressure were dropping and we request an x-ray to check the line position,” Dr Pirie said.

“Now, when we put these lines in we have very special procedures in place to do so but once the line goes in we can’t control the exact direction this line takes so if it goes into a tributary of a vessel, then the infusions can go to the wrong part of the baby which either don’t help or could damage the baby and this was the situation in this case.

“When I saw the x-ray, I pulled back the line appropriately and the child started to stabilise.

“We had to wait for the x-ray, but if I could have seen the image as soon as I had put that line in, then I could have made a decision at that time and got that baby stabilised potentially a little bit quicker.”

A £1.2m appeal has been launched to buy two new mobile digital x-ray machines and also three new CT scanners for Cheltenham General and GRH.Annually, almost 80,000 people have a CT scan or mobile x-ray at the two hospitals – a number which increases every year.

“It is a very large amount of money but the equipment keeps us up to date and allows us to deliver the best care as quickly as possible.” Dr Pirie said.

You can help Our CT Scanner Appeal in many ways including:

  • Donate online
  • Taking on a fundraising challenge such as a sponsored run or walk
  • Organising fundraising events at your local school, work, gym, club or community group
  • Making the CT scanner appeal your business’ charity of the year
  • Support transformational projects in the hospitals with a gift in your Will

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