State-of-the-art medical training facility opens at Daresbury Laboratory

Scanning facility boosts learning for trainee medical physicists

A medical training facility opens today at the Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire.

It is set to give hundreds of trainee medical physicists some vital hands-on experience with state-of-the-art medical scanners, and so in future offer better diagnostic services to patients.

The new Medical Training and Research Laboratory (MTRL) will house a SPECT/CT scanner that will allow students to receive a first-class training experience away from the daily pressures of the hospital environment, where there is often a long wait for access to such in-demand equipment.

The unit is a joint initiative between the University of Liverpool, the Royal Liverpool University Hospital, and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).

“This new facility will bring immense benefits for the trainee medical physicists and patients alike,” said STFC’s Ian Lazarus, who leads the MTRL project team.

“Scanners are used to show doctors exactly where to find tumours, how efficiently our hearts are working, or what is happening in our brains – for instance, whether a patient’s symptoms are caused by Parkinson’s disease, or another condition with similar symptoms. The MTRL is dedicated to teaching and research and students who train here will have allocated blocks of time to use the SPECT/CT, so will gain knowledge and skills in a much shorter timescale.”

SPECT/CT scanners produce a 3D map of a patient’s body so can be a key element in patient diagnosis, and hands-on experience provides medical physicists with a huge advantage. The MTRL will remove the constraints of training in a busy hospital. It will also benefit scientists by allowing researchers to explore potential ways to improve medical imaging scanners with new technologies.

Dr Melvyn Carroll from the Royal University Hospital Liverpool said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for our students to receive hands-on training during their MSc. The laboratory provides top-class facilities and expertise, allowing our students to receive the training they need to fulfil their careers.”

In the future the MTRL hopes to welcome students from more institutions, as well as researchers wishing to improve medical imaging for the benefit of NHS patients.

The laboratory that houses the scanner has been completely refurbished and provided with equipment with funding from STFC. The vital scanning equipment was bought and installed by the University of Liverpool.

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