Nuclear medicine

The nuclear medicine department is based on D level, centre block, Southampton General Hospital.

Opening hours: 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday

Contact: Sandra Johns, superindendent radiographer
sandra.johns@uhs.nhs.uk

What we do

Nuclear medicine uses radioisotopes that are bound to chemicals to identify or treat disease within the body. The nuclear medicine department at UHS undertakes a range of imaging and non-imaging diagnostic tests. We cover all body systems to include the brain, tumour imaging, bone, lung, GI, and renal. We provide a sentinel node service for breast, head and neck and melanoma cancers to identify first draining lymph nodes to minimise surgical procedures.

We have two SPECT CT gamma cameras and a gamma counter for our busy GFR service.

In addition to this, we use radioisotopes for targeted radiotherapy to treat overactive thyroids or a number of tumours. This targets the therapy to just the target sites and has minimal side effects.

We specialise in diagnostic imaging and therapies using a variety of radiopharmaceuticals.

ScannerRoles in nuclear medicine

Nuclear medicine is a multidisciplinary team. Alongside healthcare scientists, the team includes consultants in nuclear medicine, diagnostic radiographers, radiopharmacists, nurses and admin and clerical staff.

Healthcare science practitioner

The role of the healthcare science practitioner is to perform diagnostic imaging and non-imaging tests. The healthcare science practitioner will inject radiopharmaceuticals and image patients using a gamma camera with a CT attached. They will also use computer software packages to process images that are reported by the nuclear medicine consultants.

The qualification required to be a healthcare science practitioner is a BSc in healthcare science. The training required is provided during work placements to support the academic part of the training. There are opportunities to qualify as part of the apprenticeship scheme.

Assistant practitioners

Assistant practitioners have a reduced scope of practice to that of a healthcare science practitioner but they are routinely involved in imaging and therapy. They support other members of the team when required in complex cases. They learn ‘on the job’, supported by a foundation degree programme.

Healthcare scientist

Medical physicists are part of the imaging physics and radiation protection teams supporting the nuclear medicine service.

The physics teams advise on all scientific and technical aspects of diagnostic nuclear medicine procedures and support the molecular radiotherapy service. We provide radiation protection advice for the safe use of ionising radiation including radionuclides, helping to ensure compliance with legislation.

Medical physics operates under an accredited quality management system and supports quality assurance for a range of clinical equipment and procedures used for patient diagnosis and therapy. We also provide teaching and training for clinical colleagues as well as academic lecturing. We undertake service development to introduce new diagnostic and therapeutic techniques into clinical practice. We also support a range of clinical trials and are involved in academic research.

The team provides medical physics expert, radiation protection advisor and radioactive waste advisor services. Additionally, a duty physicist provides onsite day to day support to the clinical nuclear medicine department.

Training

The department promotes postgraduate training and all staff at band 6 and above have the opportunity to study radionuclide imaging up to MSc level.

We are an accredited training centre for students undertaking healthcare science degree programmes and are currently supporting degree level apprenticeship training.

Work experience and volunteering

We provide work experience opportunities as part of the radiology-wide work experience system. We accept expressions of interest for volunteering opportunities.

Contact workexperience@uhs.nhs.uk for more details.

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