PATIENTS can now have routine MRI scans in Halton for the first time.

The £33 million orthopaedic independent treatment centre, beside Halton Hospital, mothballed for more than a year, reopened last month as an orthopaedic surgery centre.

Halton Hospital has never had its own MRI scanner and used to rely on mobile scanners on lorries.

The hospital plans to open the scanning faciltiies for specialities, not just orthopaeidic, to reduce waiting times.

MRI, magnetic resonance imaging, is a type of s can used to diagnose health conditions that affect organis, tissue and bone. They use strong magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed images of the inside of the body.

The treatment centre also has CT, ultrasound and x-ray facilities, which will soon be brought back into use.

Mel Pickup, chief executive of Halton and Warrington Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We’ve always said that taking ownership of the treatment centre is a win win situation for patients at both our hospitals.

“The scanning facilities there are excellent and being able to provide MRI scans at Halton for the first time is great for patients.

“It also means that we can provide MRI and CT scans from one unit at Halton.”

An existing CT scanner at Halton Hospital will be moved to Warrington to increase capacity for emergency scans for patients from both sites.

Full orthopaedic surgery is set to start next month, when the ward and operating theatres open.

Surgery will move from Warrington.

Outpatients clinics started last month.

A free staff and patient shuttle bus between Halton Hospital and Warrington Hospital will make a drop off and pick up at the treatment centre.

A new timetable starts on Monday, September 10. The bus makes 11 round trips a day.