Local MP discovers the science behind patient care

Posted on in Hospitals

Middlesbrough MP, Andy McDonald, with Kevin Burke, head of radiotherapy physics

Andy McDonald with Kevin Burke, head of radiotherapy physics

To mark the start of Healthcare Science Week, Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald recently went behind the scenes of The James Cook University Hospital to explore some of its scientific careers and technologies.

On a tour of the nuclear medicine radiopharmacy, clinical measurement workshop and the radiotherapy physics sections of the medical physics department the MP was introduced to staff and given first-hand demonstrations.

During the visit, Andrew Simpson, trainee clinical scientist in medical physics, showed Mr McDonald a number of devices and prototypes that have been developed and designed in house. This included an intracranial pressure monitoring system which is inserted into the patient’s scull to help link their symptoms to physiological signals in order to assist with a high pressure diagnosis.

Andy McDonald, MP, said: “My visit to the physics department has been a complete eye opener for me.

“I had no idea that pieces of kits were built in this hospital.


Andy McDonald with Andrew Simpson, trainee clinical scientist in medicine physics

Andrew Simpson, trainee clinical scientist in medicine physics showing Andy McDonald a piece of kit

“To then to see the complexity of the radiotherapy was quite frankly phenomenal.

“They are incredible machines and I think that will give people an awful lot of assurance and confidence about the precision and expertise that is inherent in the operations in this hospital.”

He added: “We should be very proud and grateful that we have got such a facility here in Middlesbrough.”

Dr Robert Farley, head of medical physics and lead healthcare scientist, who facilitated the visit, commented: “It’s really important that MPs, such as Andy, come and see what we are doing because medical physics is one of those services that works behind the scenes but is essential to many clinical services.

“Therefore it is very important that the public understand how critical it is and the big part it plays in the patient’s medical journey.”