HOSPITAL bosses have pledged to fix technical issues with ultrasound machines early in 2024.

Echo-cardiography (ECG) equipment used in the neo-natal intensive care unit, and to detect COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) have limited storage for images, board members at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust (ELHT) have been told.

Limited memory on the machines means images can be lost if they cannot be offloaded, a risk register report has revealed.

"This is crucial in diagnosing lifesaving cardiac abnormalities and pulmonary pathologies," the report states.

An issue also arises when, in neo-natal cases, images need to be stored so they can be reviewed by specialists off-site from Alder Hey Children's Hospital, another related report discloses.

The report states: "The only option is to transfer babies, even if they are sick, to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital for review."

Board members were told that transferring images to a desktop computer and sharing screens through Microsoft Teams was deemed 'ineffective' as there was a reliance on Alder Hey consultants being available.

One solution being explored is the development of a virtual private network (VPN) tunnel to Alder Hey, which is said to be currently under trial.

Pete Murphy, ELHT's Chief Nurse, confirmed storage of images from some new echo-cardiography equipment had been flagged on the risk register after it was replaced recently.

He added: “It’s good governance for the trust to have a system which captures potential issues such as a risk register.

"It ensures we’re flagging problems and effectively managing the impact of them.

"In this case, we have recently replaced some echocardiography machines and we’re aware that we need to improve the amount of storage we have to keep images. It is likely this will be resolved early in the New Year.”

The board report notes that discussions are ongoing with a software provider to provide a permanent solution to the memory issue.