Staffordshire hospital to receive £1.28m for new training facilities

County Hospital in Stafford is set to receive a £1.28m AI upgrade for its radiology training facilities, benefiting both patients and clinicians in the Midlands and potentially beyond.

The funding from NHS England – Midlands aims to create a new training model at the Midlands Imaging Training Academy (MITA), allowing efficient training and supervision across regional academy sites.

The introduction of the electronics and picture archiving suite (EPACS) serves as a pilot for AI learning in imaging academies, utilising eye tracking to inform AI algorithms based on human behaviours.

The upgraded facilities enable remote trainers to instruct and observe trainees in real-time, fostering collaboration between education facilities and national academies through high-definition imaging.

The extended reality lab (ERL) further enhances training with immersive simulations in various clinical environments.

Dr Ingrid Britton, Midlands imaging training academy director and 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.”

Tom Kirkbride, joint director for workforce, training and education at NHS England – Midlands, said: “This model is an example of how we are investing in services as part of the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan, to reform the way our healthcare staff work, harnessing new digital technology to allow them to focus on patient care.

“It 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. Over time it should result in less travel time for clinicians to attend training, less costs to the NHS and lead to waiting lists being cut.

“This could be the first of a network built around the country to benefit patients and clinicians nationally and could potentially be available worldwide to deliver familiarisation training for international recruits before they come to the UK to start work in the NHS.”