ANOTHER major development which will see more patients being treated at Northallerton’s Friarage Hospital has opened its doors.

A £5m diagnostics hub has welcomed its first patients – hot on the heels about the announcement that £35.5m is to be spent on providing new operating theatres at the hospital.

The new endoscopy and urology diagnostic hub will boost the number of procedures and provide a one-stop-shop service for patients.

The new service will enable 60 more patients each week to receive endoscopy tests, which use a long, thin tube with a small camera inside to help diagnose certain symptoms.

The state-of-the-art facility will also deliver diagnostic procedures and treatments to patients with problems of the urinary tract. This will include rapid assessment of patients with suspected urinary tract cancers, as well as treatments to help patients with conditions such as difficulty passing urine, kidney stones, incontinence and urinary tract infection.

The unit was opened by Rishi Sunak, MP for Richmond, who helped make the case for the funding required.

He said: “This is another step on the way to a much better future for our local hospital, the increasing numbers of staff who work here and the increasing numbers of patients who will treated here.

“This development, when considered with the recent news about the new surgical hub, is a clear signal of the growing importance of the hospital and its role in providing the best healthcare for the people of North Yorkshire.”

The diagnostic hub will also host the South Tees minimally invasive gastrointestinal services (SMIGS) which will provide access to GI capsule endoscopy (CE or Pillcam). This involves using a miniature camera to examine the stomach or small or large bowel, as an alternative to conventional endoscopy in a select group of patients.

As part of SMIGS, the diagnostic hub will provide access to cytosponge, which is a minimally invasive test for surveillance in patients with Barretts Oesophagus. This is the first time these minimally invasive diagnostic procedures will be carried out from the Friarage.

The hub will also become home to a new South Tees Endoscopy Training Centre, and its opening comes just weeks after the Department of Health and Social Care gave the greenlight for £35.5m of NHS investment to be earmarked for the creation of new modern operating theatres at the Northallerton hospital.

Arvind Ramadas, the trust’s clinical director for endoscopy said: “The endoscopy unit will deliver a high quality and patient-centred service, with a focus on innovation and training, and we are very excited to be able to provide these services to our patients from Northallerton and surrounding areas.”

Jo Cresswell, consultant urologist, added: “This will be a wonderful facility for the people of North Yorkshire and Teesside to access the care they need for urological problems. The urology team are looking forward to developing services at this unit to improve care for our patients."

James Dunbar, the trust’s clinical collaborative chair for the Friarage said: “This is just the latest investment in new services at the Friarage which will mean more treatments being carried out here in fantastic new facilities for our patients.”