Clinical Imaging Services at AECC University College

Matthew Southam oversees AECC University College’s Clinical Imaging Services as Clinical Imaging Lead.

Matthew played a key role in developing and leading the BSc (Hons) Radiography (Diagnostic Imaging) degree at the University College and continues to teach in the School of Radiology.

In his clinical practice, Matthew works as a Clinical Specialist Sonographer, specialising in fine needle aspirations, head and neck, musculoskeletal, general, gynaecological, small parts, and early pregnancy.

He tells us more about the Clinical Imaging Services that are available on campus and plans for their further development:

“We’re really proud of the Clinical Imaging Services that we offer. We have MRI, Ultrasound and X-ray clinics on site, each with a policy of open access. Any registered healthcare professional can refer to us, whether that’s Physiotherapists, GPs, Chiropractors, or Osteopaths. This often isn’t possible in other settings.

“Patients can also self-refer for some examinations, and we have a mix of private and NHS referrals.”

Open Upright MRI scanner

“From the MRI perspective, we have one of only seven open, upright MRI scanners in the country. Instead of being a closed tunnel, it’s an open machine that people can stand, sit or lie down in. That’s really vital for claustrophobic patients. The scanner is in a wide, open room and patients can see the Radiographers through a window. It doesn’t feel like an enclosed space.

“About 50% of the patients that use the MRI are referred by the NHS and they wouldn’t otherwise go into a scanner because they don’t feel they would be able to, or physically aren’t able to. Some of these patients aren’t able to lie flat, so our scanner is really helpful for them.”

Developing our imaging services

“Developing the services that we offer is really important to me. The team is working hard to expand all of the services that we currently offer, which is exciting.  We want this to extend to all aspects: from the number of patients that we’re able to help, to the type of scanning that we are offering.

“I see imaging as key to enabling other professions. As a Physiotherapist or Chiropractor, you might make an assumption about someone’s shoulder, but until you know what damage is there, it’s difficult to put them on an appropriate treatment pathway.

“I see imaging as an enabler to good outcomes. We can scan patients to make sure we’re not doing more harm with our rehabilitation. Imaging is key to being sure that we’re not missing something else that is going on.

“I see that as being key to my role: making sure that the imaging services is supporting the growth of the other clinics on site, such as our Chiropractic Clinic and our new Integrated Rehabilitation Centre.

“Our stand-alone clinical provision launched recently; last year, we split formally from the School of Radiology. Over the next five years, we want to get the service established and grow patient numbers.

“We’re also looking at increasing the modalities that we are offering. We are currently looking at DEXA, which is bone density scanning. In terms of the other clinics and our existing specialisms on site, this could be a really good fit for us.”

Supporting teaching with clinics

“Our Ultrasound services support the teaching provision of our MSc Ultrasound course. We have placements for  around 30 students a year who are also enrolled on this course. It’s great because we’re increasing the amount of placements that are available locally, which in turn means supporting the NHS by training healthcare professionals in Ultrasound which is an increasingly important specialism, as well as giving clinicians an opportunity to do Ultrasound as adjunct to their clinical practice.

“Our X-ray provision supports teaching in the School of Radiology and the School of Chiropractic. We’re also always mindful of trying to support the NHS.”

You can find out more about our Clinical Imaging Services here.

Above: Matthew Southam