Medical Device Daily and Staff Reports

Siemens (Erlangen, Germany) won a landmark contract for medical imaging in the UK with a multi-million pound purchase of 11 top-of-the-line scanners by the University Hospitals Birmingham National Health Service Foundation Trust (UHB).

It is the single biggest contract to be awarded using the NHS Supply Chain procurement system introduced in November 2007 that gives public hospitals an accelerated and streamlined process for purchasing.

"The UHB shopping list was quite wide, so the usual suspects were presenting for a variety of modalities," said Steve Holmes, UK sales manager for Siemens Healthcare, who led the bid that bested GE Healthcare (Chalfont St. Giles, UK), Royal Philips Electronics (Eindhoven, the Netherlands) and Toshiba Medical (Tokyo).

"Philips won angiography X-ray units and Carestream was awarded general X-ray units," said Holmes, but Siemens took the big-ticket scanners, "and they are buying state of the art," he added.

UHB currently runs the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Selly Oak Hospital, located 1-1/2 miles apart in south Birmingham, and is consolidating 40 specialties into a new 545 million ($812 million) hospital to be called the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham that is scheduled to begin opening in June 2010.

"To say this is a quantum step is actually an understatement, if you could see our department today," Dr. Peter Guest, clinical service lead radiology at UHB, told Medical Device Daily.

"The importance for us . . . is the increase in capacity, allowing for a rapid turn-around for both inpatient and outpatient services, which we can not do today," he said.

"Then clearly there is a significant increase in not just the quality of imaging but an entirely new set of technological capabilities for scanners that we simply do not have today."

UHB is purchasing four MRI scanners, four computed tomography (CT) scanners and three single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT/CT) systems.

Among the CT scanners is a Somatom Definition AS+ 128-slice CT scanner that will be dedicated to the emergency department.

"I have the impression this capability is routine in the United States, but it is new for us and quite new for the UK," said Guest, adding that the benefits of full body scans for trauma cases is well-established (Medical Device Daily, March 10, 2009).

He said UHB currently uses CT in trauma cases but that the scanner is located in a separate facility where the new CT will be located in a new accident and emergency assessment and reporting center for QEHB fully loaded with new imaging equipment.

Beyond trauma, he said the 128-slice CT will be used for diagnoses of acute abdominal and chest pain and "it will be cardiac capable for triple rule-out assessments" of coronary artery disease, pulmonary embolism and aortic dissection.

Holmes said the zero-heat tubes for the AS-series CT scanner, which eliminates downtime for cooling off periods, "is terrific for throughput, which is a sensitive issue in the UK as everyone has waiting lists on their mind."

Guest mentioned improved waiting lists for radiology three times in an interview to contrast the service, as well as capabilities, for the new QEHB radiology group.

An open MRI platform will be new for the hospital's radiology group, and QEHB will also feature Siemens' Magnetom Verio 3 Tesla MR scanner which will be used for complex imaging. He said UHB currently has access to a 3 tesla scanner only for research purposes at another center.

"The Verio 3T sits on the footprint of a 1.5 scanner with a short and open bore," said Holmes, in contrast to 3T research scanners that patients find uncomfortable enough to refuse to return for follow up scans.

UHB is the leading teaching and research hospital trust in the Midlands and is a regional center for organ transplant, trauma, burns, plastic surgery, cardiology and neurosciences.

Paul Brettle, imaging X-ray group manager at UHB, said, "The new hospital will be a flagship site in terms of the services we will be able to provide for the community and we also want to ensure such innovative technology will assist us in not only keeping waiting lists down, but in tackling conditions that are increasing in an ageing population."

Presentations among the "usual suspects" in UK medical imaging begin in early May for another hospital consolidation underway by Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust that is constructing two brand-new hospitals, the Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield and the Pontefract Hospital in Pontefract.

Procurement of scanners and other medical imaging modalities is being conducted through a NHS Supply Chain tender.

Licensing accord on laser sintering

EOS GmbH Electro Optical Systems (Krailling, Germany) and Trumpf Werkzeugmaschinen said they have signed an agreement with MTT Technologies Ltd. (Stone, UK) and MTT Technologies GmbH in Germany.

Both MTT companies receive a non-exclusive license for certain EOS and Trumpf patent rights regarding the laser-sintering process. The new contract replaces a previous agreement between EOS, Trumpf, MCP Tooling Technology Ltd. (now MTT Technologies Ltd) and MCP-HEK Tooling GmbH (now MTT Technologies GmbH), which now includes the license for the U.S. and Canada.

Under the new agreement, EOS also has withdrawn a lawsuit against MTT that was pending at the U.S. District Court in South Carolina.

The parties have agreed not to disclose the level of license fees to be paid by MTT.

EOS was founded in 1989 and is a global leader in the field of laser-sintering, the key technology for e-manufacturing. Components can be produced quickly, flexibly and cost-effectively, directly from electronic data.

The method accelerates product development and modernizes production processes.

With about 50 subsidiaries and branch offices, the EOS group is represented in almost every European country, in North and South America as well as in Asia. Production locations can be found in Germany, Austria, China, Czech Republic, France, Great Britain, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Switzerland and the U.S.

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