WALK-IN x-ray services have been set up in Northumberland to help early diagnosis of lung cancer.
Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has launched the pioneering service at eight of its hospital and community facilities for people who are worried about a lingering cough.
The aim is to diagnose cancer early, when it is more likely to be curable.
Data shows that people in Northumberland and North Tyneside do not present early enough with the symptoms of lung cancer, which is one of the most common and serious forms of cancer in the UK.
In 2011, only 16 per cent of patients in the area sought advice with early-stage lung cancer — one of the lowest figures in the UK — and 57 per cent presented with incurable symptoms of the disease.
The new chest x-ray service is available to people over 50, who have smoked at some time in their lives and who haven’t had a chest x-ray within three months, if they have had a cough or chest pain for more than three weeks or are coughing up blood.
Head of Respiratory at the trust, Dr Mark Weatherhead, said: “This is the first time this type of service has been operational in the North East and we’re really proud to be running this service from our hospital and community sites in Northumberland and North Tyneside.
“This model of service has worked well in other areas of the country in helping to support early diagnosis of lung cancer and we hope for success here.”
The service is offered without prior appointment at Morpeth NHS Centre every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, from 9am to 5pm, except between 1pm and 1.30pm.