Medical Physics Service

About the Regional Medical Physics Service

Medical Physics involves the application of physics and engineering disciplines to healthcare with the overall aim of assisting and improving the delivery of a high quality and safe and effective service. Medical physics staff are employed in a range of specialist areas such as those below.

Click on the links below to find out more about the services we provide.


Teaching and Research

The service is actively involved in teaching, training and a range of research & development projects. We have strong links with local universities - Queen’s University of Belfast and Ulster University.
Click here to read more about current research and development projects

Location & Contact Details

RMPS services are delivered across Northern Ireland, from bases in the Royal Victoria, Belfast City and Forster Green hospitals (all in Belfast) by 100+ scientific, technical, nursing, pharmacist and support staff.

You can contact RMPS in a number of ways:

By post:
Regional Medical Physics Service        Dr Canice McGivern
West Wing                                          Head of RMPS
Royal Victoria Hospital
Belfast
BT12 6BA

By Telephone: +44 (0)28 9063 4430
By Email: medical.physics@belfasttrust.hscni.net


Radiotherapy Physics

The Radiotherapy Physics service provides scientific, technical and engineering support to the Cancer Centre located at the Belfast City Hospital. The Cancer Centre is equipped with:

  • 10 Varian linear accelerators,
  • 2 GE 4DCT simulators,
  • An Acuity simulator,
  • An Integrated Brachytherapy Unit
  • Permanent I-125 Prostate Seed Implant service.

The department delivers IMRT and VMAT treatments and utilises a full range of IGRT technologies including CBCT. Specialist treatments such as Total Skin Electron Therapy, Total Body Irradiation and SABR therapies using FFF beams are also undertaken. The section operates within an accredited quality system (ISO9001 (2008)).

The Radiotherapy Physics service currently has: 

  • 19 clinical scientists,
  • 19 treatment planning and mould room technologists
  • 8 electronic and mechanical engineers.

and is divided scientifically into three groups:

  • Treatment Planning & Mould Room,
  • Brachytherapy
  • Dosimetry.

There is a natural overlap between the groups with individual staff members being assigned roles within one or more of the groups depending on the requirements of the service. Two post-doctoral research fellows work within the service investigating the uses of CBCT data for treatment planning, data mining and biological modelling. Members of the service are involved nationally and in an all-Ireland basis for training of radiotherapy staff, on professional committees and for development of radiotherapy research and development within the UK.


Radioisotopes

The Radioisotope service is based on both the Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH) and Belfast City Hospital (BCH) (Cancer Centre). It services comprise:

  • a clinical nuclear medicine service
  • a regional radiopharmacy service, including cyclotron production facility
  • a regional nuclear medicine medical physics expert (MPE) service

All of the above radioisotope services are provided to the ISO 9001:2008 standard by a team of clinical scientists, clinical technologists, radio-pharmacists and nurses

Nuclear Medicine

The nuclear medicine service is provided from the RVH and BCH cancer centre site and is equipped with:

  • 4 gamma cameras (3 with SPECT CT)
  • 1 PET/CT scanner.

It delivers approximately 3500 diagnostic scans along with a range of Iodine, Yittrium-90 microsphere, Phosphorous-32, Samarium-153 and Radium-223 therapies.

The PET/CT service delivers approximately 3000 scans per year, primarily for oncology related conditions.

Regional radio-pharmacy & cyclotron facility

The Regional Radiopharmacy produces and supplies radiopharmaceuticals for nuclear medicine departments in Belfast Trust and two other hospital trusts in Northern Ireland. These are mainly Tc-99m based radiopharmaceuticals (approximately 15,000 doses per annum), though other diagnostic and therapeutic agents are also supplied. A blood labelling service also operates from the regional radio-pharmacy. The radiopharmacy group also manage the only cyclotron facility in Northern Ireland and this currently produces FDG for use in PET scanning.

Regional Nuclear Medicine Medical Physics Expert (MPE) Service

The service provides a regional nuclear medicine service medical physics expert (MPE) and equipment QC services to all other nuclear medicine departments in trusts across Northern Ireland. It also provides a range of expert scientific advisory and consultancy services to trusts in support of their requirements to ensure compliance with legislation.


Radiological Sciences & Imaging

The Radiological Sciences and Imaging (RSI) service provides scientific and technical support to Health & Social Care (HSC) Trust and independent sector medical imaging departments. The services provided help to ensure the quality, safety and efficacy of imaging procedures and allow departments to meet statutory requirements and good practice guidance.

The service principally deals with two main areas of imaging; diagnostic x-ray imaging and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and is delivered by a team of clinical scientists and technologists.

The team is also active in a range of research and development projects and provides training to trust and department staff on safety and quality assurance in imaging.

Diagnostic X-ray Imaging

A Medical Physics Expert (MPE) service in diagnostic radiology is provided to all HSC Trusts using x-rays for imaging purposes. This enables Trusts to optimise their use of ionising radiation thereby minimising patient exposure to X-rays while maintaining the required image quality. The service includes provision of advice and expertise on:-

  • Optimisation of imaging protocols and procedures
  • Imaging equipment performance
  • Patient doses in diagnostic radiology
  • Research studies involving radiation imaging
  • Specification of new radiological equipment
  • Introduction and evaluation of new techniques and equipment in diagnostic radiology

An x-ray imaging equipment performance service is also provided to all departments in compliance with national performance standards and relevant legislation. The service also provides commissioning surveys of newly installed and updated imaging systems and routine surveys to monitor performance throughout the life of the equipment.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

The MRI service provides clinical imaging departments in hospitals with advice on the quality, efficacy and safety of MR equipment and procedures.

This service includes provision of advice and expertise on:-

  • MR equipment specification and installations
  • Quality assurance and equipment performance including commissioning and routine equipment surveys and advice on imaging artefacts
  • Imaging protocols and procedures
  • Patient safety including imaging of patients with implants and active devices.

 


 

Radiation Protection

The Radiation Protection Service (RPS) is based at Forster Green Hospital in Belfast. It provides advice and assistance to HealthCare Trusts throughout Northern Ireland on the safe use of radiation. The service is provided by a team of highly skilled and experienced staff including specialist advisers whose recommendations are designed to ensure compliance with legislation, guidance and standards. The service is also provided to users in the industrial, government and private sectors.

Ionising Radiation Protection

Support and advice is provided to the HSC trusts to ensure that radiation safety is an integral part of the use of x-rays and radioactive material. Certified radiation protection advisers (RPAs) provide a range of services including expertise and advice on:-

  • Radiation protection requirements, including requirements for safe and optimal use, of new and existing x-ray departments and radiation installations.
  • Legislatively required environmental impact assessments arising from the disposal of radioactive material.
  • Statutory calibrations of dose-rate & contamination monitors and electronic personal dosimeters are carried out for HSC, educational and industrial users of ionising radiation.
  • Radioactive source leak testing and sample assay analysis

Training courses are provided for radiation protection supervisors and also staff who operate radiation equipment or refer patients for diagnostic or therapeutic exposures.

The RPS is a major component of the HSC’s response plan for radiation or nuclear emergencies and support is also provided to the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) Hazadours Materials (HASMAT) officers.

Non Ionising Radiation Protection

A comprehensive advisory service is provided for the healthcare use of lasers, ultra violet lamps, broadband optical sources and microwave/radio frequency generators. The service uses a comprehensive range of detectors to measure the output from these sources and provides a dosimetry service to all the Northern Ireland ultraviolet phototherapy centres. Expert scientific support is provided to the photodiagnostic skin testing Centre at BCH.


Clinical Engineering & Physiological Sciences (CEPS)

CEPS provide clinical engineering (including specialist computing) and physiological sciences advice, expertise and support to a number of clinical areas in Belfast Trust including Ophthalmology, Neurosciences, Vascular Surgery, Orthopaedics, Clinical Trials Unit and Laboratory services. These services are also available to other Healthcare Trusts in Northern Ireland.

Clinical Engineering

Professional engineering and technical support and advice is provided in areas including:-

  • Medical device assessment and vigilance
  • Equipment management
  • Medical and laboratory equipment servicing
  • Computerised equipment management systems
  • Equipment design, development and testing
  • Specialist clinical application support and validation
  • Clinical software, including databases, application design and development

All above activities are performed within a Quality Management System accredited to ISO13485:2012 standard.

Clinical Measurement

This group provides scientific support, development and advice on:

  • Physiological measurement systems application support and design
  • Non-invasive vascular ultrasound patient investigation.
  • Specialist biomechanical measurements and analysing in areas including primaary joint replacement arthroplasty.

Specialist Advisory Services

In response to legislative requirements, the RMPS delivers a range of specialist advisory services, including those below, to both HSC and non-HSC customers. These services are provided by highly skilled and expert staff and directed by specialist certificated advisers, who fulfil the following statutory roles:-

  • Radiation Protection Adviser (RPA)
  • Laser Protection Adviser (LPA)
  • Medical Physics Expert (MPE)
  • Radioactive Waste Adviser (RWA)
  • Dangerous Goods Safety Adviser (DGSA)
  • Qualified Person (Radiation Monitors)
  • MRI Safety Expert (MRSE)

Teaching & Training

Staff within the RMPS actively contribute to a range of teaching & training initiatives including those below:-

  • Clinical scientist training scheme (MSC STP)
  • Clinical technologist training
  • Delivery of FRCR Physics module lectures
  • Delivery of lectures on relevant courses at local universities