Cancer diagnostics boost for North East London - Barts Charity
Team stand with the 3T MRI scanner at Mile End Hospital in East London

Cancer diagnostics boost for North East London

Since the MRI suite opened at Mile End Hospital in autumn 2022, waiting times have reduced dramatically.

  • Date: November 9, 2023

Updated from February 2023

More than 90% of patients are getting their scan within six weeks 

A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner at the Mile End Hospital, which we have part funded, is in use in the new Early Diagnosis Centre (EDC) and proving a major boost for patients in North East London, helping to spot cancer sooner.

Since the MRI suite opened in autumn 2022, waiting times have reduced dramatically. As of September 2023, more than 90% of patients are getting their scan within six weeks. Before the suite opened, this figure was only 45%.

And because the same sized workforce can get through more scans, the scanner is helping to relieve pressure on staff. 

Faster and more accurate diagnoses

The £4.1 million 3Tesla (3T) scanner uses the latest MRI technology to provide faster and more accurate diagnoses for a range of cancers, including brain, spinal cord, pelvic, breast, liver and musculoskeletal malignancies.

The EDC (where the 3T MRI scanner is in use) is a joint initiative from three local NHS trusts – Barts Health NHS TrustBarking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals and Homerton Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust – and offers best practice in additional endoscopy, ultrasound and phlebotomy capacity. Its co-location with X-ray and CT scanning, together with the new 3T MRI unit, supports one-stop cancer pathways for efficient, holistic patient care. 

Increasing MRI capacity is a national priority and diagnostic activity forms part of over 85% of clinical pathways. The NHS spends over £6bn a year to carry out 1.5 billion diagnostic tests. 

The centre is part of a national drive to develop innovative one-stop community diagnostic hubs as outlined in the independent report ‘Diagnostics: Recovery and Renewal’ (Oct 2020). The EDC is due to be developed as a full Community Diagnostic Centre (CDC). 

The 3T MRI scanner at Mile End Hospital

“The state-of-the-art 3T scanner has a significant advantage over the equivalent 1.5T unit as it is more efficient, leading to faster scans. The high-quality imaging could also cut the need for unnecessary interventions such as biopsies.”
Dr Angela Wong, Chief Medical Officer for the North East London Cancer Alliance and lead consultant on the project

Adding value to upgrade scanner

In 2021, NHSE Community Diagnostic Centres (CDC) programme provided £3.64m to support the purchase and associated capital costs of installing a 1.5T MRI. Barts Charity provided the £500,000 required to enable the upgrade to the 3T model, offering equitable access for all hospital sites in North East London. It is expected this will provide capacity for up to 4,500 more scans per year, on top of the additional 16,500 additional procedures provided by the EDC.

“This vital and much needed capital investment is a prime example of how we as a charity, can add real value to the NHS by providing the additional funding needed to improve health outcomes for the people of North East London.”
Fiona Miller Smith, Barts Charity CEO

International recognition

In 2023, the Mile End Hospital Early Diagnostics Centre (which the 3T MRI suite is part of) was shortlisted for a prestigious Health Service Journal (HSJ) Modernising Diagnostics Award in recognition of their outstanding efforts and achievements. Winners will be announced in November 2023. 


The impact of our funding

We are proud to work with Barts Health NHS Trust and its five hospitals, alongside researchers at Queen Mary University of London and City, University of London to bring brilliant ideas such as this to life to improve health and healthcare in East London. Our latest impact report shines a light on the people and projects we have supported recently.  

Read our latest impact report