Alliance Medical Ltd.

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Alliance Medical Ltd. describes itself as "...the leading provider of outsourced radiology imaging services in Europe, working in partnership with national health providers and independent healthcare organisations." [1]

Alliance's 'disastrous' 2004 deal to provide MRI scanning services to the NHS

In June 2004, Alliance Medical won a £95 million five-year contract to provide and operate 12 mobile MRI scanners for the NHS. [2] [3] [4]

Yet the MRI scanners which actually belong to local NHS trusts are often idle because the trusts cannot afford to run them. For example, according to the BBC, "One hospital with problems is The Royal Bolton, in Greater Manchester, which is treating patients with a mobile scanner while its own machine is often switched off. It should run for 10 sessions a week but the trust can only afford six." [5] Indeed, the government was warned that this could occur. At the time the Allliance Medical contract was announced, Professor Adrian Dixon from the Royal College of Radiologists cautioned: "There are a lot of MRI systems in hospitals which have just been put in by the government which are not running to full capacity. We hope [the deal] will not interfere with proper funding of these machines." [6]

By February 2005, only a few weeks away from a general election, the deal had become a liability for the Labour government with British newspapers reporting that doctors were branding it a "disaster". [7] [8] According to The Yorkshire Post, doctors were complaining that

"major problems with the service... had led to mistakes and delays in results of MRI scans carried out by private firm Alliance Medical. A number of hospitals have pulled out of the £90m contract negotiated by the Department of Health, amid concerns about the quality of the results of scans, which are examined by doctors in Belgium, Spain and South Africa. Gill Markham, chairman of the British Medical Association's radiology sub-committee, said yesterday: 'I think everyone acknowledges that it has been a complete disaster. This was an off-the-cuff, ill-thought-out contract involving a lot of money which could have been spent on using existing NHS scanners which are lying idle.'" [9]

Doctors who have criticized the Alliance Medical MRI contract

Criticisms of Alliance's use of overseas radiologists in South Africa, Belgium and Spain [10] to analyze the scans:

  • Paul Dubbins, vice president and dean of the faculty of clinical radiology at the Royal College of Radiologists: "We have raised this with the European Parliament because we are sufficiently concerned that the processes of communication of a report might rely upon structured terminology. There are different abbreviations that we use in this country than others will use in, for example, the USA." [11]
  • Edwin Borman, chairman of the BMA's International Committee and a consultant anaesthetist at Walsgrave Hospital: "The competence of people doing the reporting cannot always be guaranteed, particularly with different standards of practice applying in different parts of the world." [12]
  • Tom Goodfellow, consultant radiologist, Walsgrave Hospital, Coventry: "Had the resources been given to us we could have addressed the problem ourselves. There are NHS scanners sitting idle. In Coventry they are pretty well used, though we could clearly extend that use into evenings and the weekend. Any initiative that will reduce waiting lists you have to support. But the government did it badly without consulting the profession and used a system that, instead of making use of radiologists in this country, decided to send it all over-seas.Whereyouhave very little control over the quality." [13]

Other criticisms of the contract:

  • Warren Town, deputy general secretary of the Society of Radiographers: “There are huge problems with recruitment and retention of staff in the NHS and we wish the health secretary would put money into that instead of handing it to the private sector.” [14]


Accessed September 2015: [1]

Executive team

Board of directors


Contact information

Head Office
Alliance Medical Limited
Home Farm Drive
Upton, Nr Banbury
Oxfordshire OX15 6HU
Tel: +44 01295 678081
Fax: +44 01295 678089
Email: info AT

SourceWatch resources

External links

  • Board, Alliance Medical, accessed September 27, 2015.