Four in ten NHS hospitals using outdated medical equipment including 37-year old X-ray machines

  • 541 pieces of medical equipment over a decade old with some X-ray machines up to 37 years old
  • Four in ten hospital trusts have outdated medical equipment at least a decade-old, despite NHS England advice
  • Lib Dem Leader Ed Davey calls for urgent investment in medical equipment at his party’s Spring Conference

NHS hospitals are using hundreds of outdated x-ray machines, CT scanners and radiotherapy machines, the Liberal Democrats have revealed, with some dating back to the 1980s.

541 X-ray machines, CT and MRI scanners and radiotherapy treatment machines are over a decade old, the figures show. It comes despite advice from NHS England that CT and MRI scanners and X-ray machines should be replaced every ten years to ensure they continue to operate reliably and produce clear images.

The oldest was an X-ray machine owned by Bedfordshire Hospitals Trust that is a staggering 37 years old. Other trusts with the oldest X-ray machines include University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay (27 years), Royal Cornwall Hospitals (26 years) and Hampshire Hospitals (26 years).

The oldest MRI scanner was owned by Stockport NHS Foundation Trust and was over 20 years old. Meanwhile East Sussex, home to health minister Maria Caulfield’s seat of Lewes, had the oldest CT scanner at 17 years old. 30 of the 69 NHS trusts had either a CT or MRI scanner that was at least ten years old.

69 NHS hospital trusts provided figures in response to Freedom of Information requests by the Liberal Democrats. Of these, 41 or over half of the total had at least one X-ray machine that was over 20 years old.

The figures also reveal that the NHS has paid almost £20m over the past three years to maintain old x-ray machines and scanners. Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals had the biggest maintenance bill with almost £7.5 million spent in the past three years.

A separate parliamentary question found 20 of the country’s 268 linear accelerators used in radiotherapy are older than their recommended 10 year life span.

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said:

Having lost both my parents to cancer, I know just how important it is that patients receive the highest quality of care on the NHS.

It beggars belief that NHS staff are having to rely on results from decades-old hospital scanners, machinery that may have been built before they were even born.

Understaffed and exhausted NHS staff are being pushed to breaking point, while patients are treated in crumbling hospitals with outdated equipment.

The potential for error from poor quality machines doesn’t bear thinking about. People up and down the country will be worried about whether they will get an accurate reading from these decades-old machines.

The government must give hospitals the capital funding they need to invest in newer equipment, so patients can get the first-class treatment they deserve.

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This entry was posted in News and Press releases.

One Comment

  • Catherine Royce 22nd Mar '23 - 7:49pm

    Whilst many hospitals require urgent structural repairs, including leaking/collapsing roofs worrying about old equipment provided its still working well and being regularly serviced seems strange, and also not very eco-friendly.
    There are more fundamental things to worry about eg staffing crisis, social care crisis, mental health beds crisis, dental health crisis etc etc

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