11 patients ‘too heavy’ to be scanned at Hartlepool and Stockton hospitals

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Eleven obese patients had to be referred to other hospitals within the last three years by a health trust as they were too heavy to be scanned.

NHS trusts across the country have had to send patients elsewhere as they are too heavy for their scanning equipment, and 11 have been referred by the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation.

The scanner at the University Hospital of Hartlepool has a weight limit of 32 stone, while the cardiac scanner at the University Hospital of North Tees has a limit of 39 stone.

Clinical director for radiology at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, Matthew Trewhella, said: “The trust has two MRI scanners, one at the University Hospital of Hartlepool and one at the University Hospital of North Tees in Stockton.

“The new, state-of-the-art cardiac scanner at the University Hospital of North Tees also has a wider bore or tunnel, meaning that there are no patients who will be referred elsewhere, either because of their size or because of their weight.

“The trust has always had high quality MRI scanners and has recently invested in a Siemens 3T high field cardiac capable scanner, which is among the most technically advanced and fastest available.

“We are delighted to be providing our patients with the best quality and most patient-friendly MRI scanning.”

The National Obesity Forum, which is a charity seeking to raise awareness of obesity, has warned that the ‘fat are getting fatter’.

A spokesman said: “Every district general hospital should now never need to transfer their patients for scans.

“The economic case for investing in their own scanner could have been made years ago when it became clear that obesity numbers were not about to decline.

“Indeed, the fat were getting fatter and therefore likely to require more scanning episodes.

“Despatching patients to hospitals miles away is both cumulatively expensive for the hospital and degrading for the individual.”