Patients are now receiving lifesaving tests and scans at a new purpose built facility in South Tyneside.

The £10 million Integrated Diagnostic Centre (IDC) has now opened its doors at South Tyneside District Hospital.

The IDC’s very first patient was John Goss, 73, from Washington, who has been undergoing investigations for crackling sounds in his chest.

He said: “I’d never been to the hospital in South Shields before, but found it easily and when I got to the front desk, they said ‘You’re our first ever patient’ and I thought what’s happening here!

“It was wonderful, it’s a lovely open building, spotlessly clean and I was very well looked after by the team.”

Also among its initial visitors was Susan Smith, 66, who lives in Bowburn, but returned to her hometown for her check following the diagnosis of kidney stones last autumn.

The retired civil servant said: “My experience was very good, it’s a lovely, airy unit.

“Going through the scanner, it was interesting hearing it whizz around but it was very quick and the team were very good.”

Engineer Robert Quinn, 66, from Burdon Rise, on the outskirts of Sunderland, was also undergoing a scan for the same condition.

After his appointment he said: “It’s very smart, it’s a very nice building, and I’d already heard about it through a family member.

“It’s been a nice experience and fast, I must admit, and the scanner itself was just like the one I’ve been through at Sunderland, it’s all quite straightforward.”

The IDC has been created by a partnership between South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation and Alliance Medical Limited, a long-term partner of the Trust which has provided scanning services for many years.

It will help tackle existing waiting lists, with space set aside inside the unit to increase its capacity, as the demand for diagnostics is expected to rise in the years ahead.

The centre was built by Sunderland firm, Brims.

It is on land which was once home to a former derelict nurses’ home, opposite the hospital’s Ingham Wing.

It currently has two CT and two MRI scanners. They will be joined later this year by a PET-CT scanner.

This uses a mildly radioactive substance to show up cancer cells in the body and can also be used to diagnose other conditions.

While the centre awaits the arrival of its permanent equipment, a mobile scanner will continue to make its regular visits to site.

This means patients no longer need to travel to Middlesbrough’s James Cook University Hospital or Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital for the check and can have their appointment closer to home.