New managed service contract with Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Althea is pleased to announce a partnership with Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, in which it will provide diagnostic imaging and radiotherapy equipment.

The 10-year managed service contract, which has an optional 10-year extension, will include the robust management and high-quality maintenance of four linear accelerators and more than 160 Radiology assets through the single point-of-contact Service Centre, the provision of a clinical consumables management service, and a significant asset replacement programme which will see 18 new systems delivered by the end of the year.

Two fully-equipped mammography trailers have already been delivered to the Royal Derby Hospital, and several other state-of-the art clinical systems will be handed over before the end of the year. These include eight ultrasounds, a linear accelerator and associated oncology management and treatment planning systems, six x-ray systems and a gamma camera. All have been selected on a vendor-independent basis.

Derby Teaching Hospitals works to an ethos of ‘Taking Pride in Caring’, and aims to be a beacon for all that is best in 21st century healthcare. Althea firmly believes this contract supports that vision.

Kevin Downs, Director of Finance and Performance for the Trust, said, “We are delighted that the managed equipment service has now gone live and that staff and patients are benefitting from the investment in new technology – an investment made possible due to the financial savings achieved through a long-term partnership with the UK’s leading vendor-independent MES provider.”

Jason Long, Althea’s Business Development Director, commented, “We are delighted to have Derby as our latest managed equipment service customer. We share the Trust’s vision of taking pride in the service we deliver and epitomising quality.  Our service is an industry-leading solution that will support Derby deliver a safe, high-performing and efficient patient service.”

Asteral and MESA merger

Asteral is pleased to confirm that it is joining forces with Medical Equipment Solutions and Applications (MESA) to create a unified managed equipment and managed maintenance services Group (now called Althea). The merger will ensure providers in the NHS and across Europe will benefit from the Group’s unrivalled asset management and service expertise throughout the product lifecycle of high-end medical systems and other clinical medical devices.

MESA, based in Switzerland and founded in 2009, is the largest independent pan-European provider of diagnostic imaging engineering services and asset management solutions. Working across 12 countries including the UK, Italy, Germany, Poland and Spain, MESA serves more than 600 diagnostic imaging clinics and hospitals, whilst managing over 2,800 medical equipment systems and devices.  With forty years experience maintaining diagnostic imaging equipment, MESA brings the new Group a deep service culture coupled with a multi-vendor service model that complements the vendor-independent service that Asteral provides.

MESA Executive Chairman and founder said, “We are delighted to announce the combination of MESA and Asteral, which brings together two highly complementary businesses and highly skilled management teams. As a combined group, we will be in an even stronger position to help our customers deliver improved patient care by leveraging our expertise in the way that medical facilities are planned, procured, managed and maintained.”

Christopher Langley who becomes Special Advisor to the Board commented, “I am delighted that Asteral will benefit from this new relationship, which will allow Asteral to go from strength to strength, building on the significant growth of the past 3 years.”

Stephen Hodgson, Asteral’s Chief Operating Officer and founder, said: “The natural synergies that exist between Asteral and MESA will ensure that we continue to deliver cost-effective and high-quality managed equipment and managed maintenance services to healthcare providers in the UK.  The new Group will use its market scale and insight to leverage value for money, create new operational efficiencies and drive service innovations as we continue to seek to improve patient care through the effective management of medical equipment.”

Lancashire Teaching Hospitals renews maintenance contract

Althea is pleased to announce that Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has renewed its maintenance service for a further three years.  The new managed maintenance contract for diagnostic imaging equipment has been agreed via the London Procurement Partnership framework, and is further to the success of the previous two-year service which began in April 2012.

The new contract will provide the Trust with further cost savings and operational benefits including: unique vendor-neutral procurement expertise and advice; a single point-of-contact Service Centre for all service requests; guaranteed uptime; and improved detailed reporting on equipment performance.

Our maintenance service gives the flexibility to customise maintenance services to meet the clinical and financial needs of the service leads and Lancashire joins a growing number of Trusts who are realising the savings that Althea can offer them.  Althea now delivers its maintenance service to ten NHS Trusts in over eighteen hospital sites.

Jason Long, Business Development Director said, “We are delighted with the award of this contract – the renewal serves as testament to the success of our maintenance service and competitive pricing.  Our range of services delivers measurable cost and efficiency savings for the management and maintenance of critical medical equipment.  Hospitals are able to make vital savings on their non-pay spend and remodel the way they plan the maintenance of their medical facilities, achieving improved efficiency and productivity.”

Delivering the balance of quality and cost savings within the NHS

“Althea’s current range of services is proven to achieve the right balance between delivering high quality services and meeting financial targets.  Althea offers robust, unbiased support…”

Althea’s solutions can help drive down NHS procurement costs

As a recent report by Ernst and Young shows price variations of as much as 300% across some NHS Trusts, Althea offers solutions to some of the biggest procurement challenges facing the NHS.

In February 2011 the National Audit Office concluded that better procurement could save the Health Service half a billion pounds a year and a recent study by Ernst and Young highlighted that approximately £500 million a year is being lost due to poor procurement processes and decisions.  Ernst and Young spokesman, Joe Stringer, commented that the findings raised “…concerns about price variation and spending in the procurement of NHS suppliers.”  The report further highlighted that prices paid for basic hospital supplies and services varied by as much as 300% depending on the Trust.

The National Audit Office and Public Accounts Committee have both similarly criticised that ‘opportunities for efficiencies’ were being missed due to the new Foundation Trust status meaning hospitals procure their supplies more independently.  The danger of this comes where a Trust has paid a higher price for the same equipment and will then continue to be charged higher prices instead of a fair price being tailored to the Trust’s requirements.

Jason Long, Althea’s Business Development Director, understands these concerns and comments, “Price variation throughout the NHS is an issue which is having a profound effect on what are strained and dwindling budgets.  In order to make significant savings Trusts need to evaluate procurement processes and consider other more cost-effective options.  We understand the challenges that Trusts are facing in the new NHS economy which is why we created a portfolio of highly-focused solutions that aim to address the current clinical and financial challenges.  These solutions deliver significant cost savings and improve equipment performance & lifecycle management leaving staff free to focus on patient care and treatment.”

Althea obtains wholesale dealer’s licence for the supply of contrast media

Althea, the leading vendor independent provider of medical equipment services, is now licenced to purchase contrast media associated with imaging equipment, having been awarded a Wholesale Dealer’s Licence (WL35578) from the Medicine Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Contrast media is a regulated and strictly controlled consumable used in diagnostic imaging and the award follows six months of background investigations, planning and external training in Good Distribution Practice by the MHRA.  A host of new controlled documents have been implemented across Asteral in line with the existing Quality Management System ISO9000:2008, with new procedures and processes established to ensure the effective monitoring of contrast media from factory to client.

“We are really pleased to be able to offer contrast media as part of our healthcare service provision.  Not only is it further proof that we are a responsible business capable of managing the most complex of consumables, but it also demonstrates our hard work and commitment to meet the needs of healthcare today.  This license provides us with yet another vehicle to reduce costs for the NHS and we are looking forward to continuing our work with Trusts to meet both quality and financial targets going forwards”.