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Kent Medical Imaging: from innovation to expansion

Kent Medical Imaging: from innovation to expansion
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Kent Medical Imaging: from innovation to expansion
Siobhan Stirling - Sharp Minds Communications by Siobhan Stirling - Sharp Minds Communications
Owner/Director - Sharp Minds Communications Ltd

They say half the secret to running a successful business is having the courage to take a calculated risk and, 20 years ago, that’s exactly what colleagues Fiona Pocock and Jane West did. Back then, they were NHS ultrasound sonographers who met working at Maidstone Hospital. Fed up with the hours and the paperwork, they realised that there was room for an independent ultrasound business in the market offering additional services aside from that offered by the NHS. Private and self-funding patients could be referred to them, thus reducing NHS waiting times and GPs could also use them as sub-contractors to the NHS when waiting lists became intolerably long. The ultrasounds they’d continue to offer under their own company would include pregnancy, general abdominal, pelvic and testicular scans. Additionally, with a DEXA scanner they would be able to offer bone density scans.

Finding a rental base

Having accrued savings via private work they’d done in addition to their NHS day-jobs, the two women then secured a bank loan of around £100k, which they planned to use to fund the purchase of an ultrasound machine. The next step was to choose a base for their new venture. Where could they rent that had the right sort of space for the business, was close to Maidstone, in an easily accessible, attractive area and with unlimited free parking? The answer was Churchill Square, Kings Hill. Fiona explains, “Twenty years ago, there were very few businesses in this area of what was then a new village, but, even though it was quiet, we could see it had potential and it ticked all our boxes. It was affordable, the location was excellent and we could have space on the ground floor, with wide doors that wheelchairs could get through. Once we’d got planning permission for medical usage of the space, we knew we’d found our business home!” Kent Medical Imaging was born.

Family support

For the first three months, Fiona and Jane were unsalaried, with family members stepping in to help the women establish their fledgling business; Jane’s mother in law, a former trained nurse, offered patient care, while Fiona’s mother served as a temporary accountant and receptionist. “We had help that freed us up to concentrate on the scanning and we stuck to the same straightforward diagnostic scans we’d offered in the NHS and, with no competition in the area, the business was quick to take off.”

And today…

Twenty years later, Kent Medical Imaging runs to its own waiting area, two ultrasound rooms, a consulting room and an area in which staff can make private calls to patients. Fiona and Jane see an average of between 20 and 30 patients a day, with the team having expanded to include sonographers Brendan O’Reilly and Louise Ford. But while the business has undoubtedly grown, they do have more competition these days: “In the past ten years, lots of companies have jumped on the pregnancy scan bandwagon,” says Fiona, “But many of them only use technicians to scan. Not only do we offer a far wider range of specialised scans, but both Jane and I are medically qualified with Master’s degrees in ultrasound. We refer patients to the appropriate medical person if we do find something of concern during their ultrasound scan – we’re always able to send them off with a report, and email that report straight away to their GP or local hospital. What’s more, we’re surprisingly affordable – something that appeals to many of our customers, who self-refer without private cover, simply because they’re so keen to avoid NHS waiting times.”

The benefits of support

And how does Fiona feel that being part of the Capital Space community at Churchill Square has helped Kent Medical Imaging to grow as a business?

“We’ve found the Capital Space staff extremely helpful – from directing patients who arrive at central reception to us, to re-carpeting our rooms. Nothing is ever too much trouble if we have a problem. They are always willing to help. We do feel a sense of community here, so we’re confident we’ll be celebrating our 20th anniversary not just with our own patients and colleagues, but with others based here, too.”

With so much to be proud of, that celebration is sure to be a lively one.

Specialist businesses such as Kent Medical Imaging have found room to grow and thrive within the Capital Space setting.

To find out how Capital Space virtual offices or business premises

could benefit your growing business,

call 0800 107 3667