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Health / Charitable trust approves £500,000 grant to MRI scanner appeal

Shetland Charitable Trust headquarters at Lerwick's North Road. Photo: Shetland News

SHETLAND Charitable Trust is to provide a £500,000 grant to the MRI scanner appeal, it has been confirmed.

The grant towards buying and installing the scanner in Lerwick will help the appeal reach its fundraising target of £1.65 million.

The payment was agreed unanimously by trustees at a special meeting held today (Thursday) to consider a report recommending approval of the funding application.

Many in the community had called on the charitable trust – which is sitting on reserves of over £315 million – to stump up some cash for the appeal.

In the 2000s the charitable trust donated £600,000 towards a £1 million CT scanner for Shetland.

The MRI scanner appeal was launched in July 2018 with the aim of buying, installing and running a prefabricated MRI unit on the site of the Gilbert Bain Hospital, saving patients having to travel to Aberdeen for the service.

MRI scanners can look at almost any part of the body and create pictures which help show up differences between healthy and unhealthy tissue.

It is hoped that the scanner will enhance the lives of people in Shetland by:

  • Reducing unnecessary patient travel, inconvenience and stress;
  • Making MRI diagnostic tests more readily available to islanders;
  • Improving patients’ health and reducing health inequalities;
  • Using the savings from reduced patient transport to provide the scanner service.

Prior to the charitable trust grant the total amount raised for the appeal was £810,404, with most of this coming from the community.

Announcing the grant approval trust chairman Dr Andrew Cooper said: “The community in Shetland has shown clearly its support for this good cause so its very pleasing that the trust is able to provide a helping hand.

“The charitable trust exists to enhance the quality of life in Shetland and, clearly, looking after our health is fundamental to a good life. We hope that being able to diagnose treatable illness quickly and without patients having to leave the islands will be a real improvement here.”

As a charity, the trust is not allowed to contribute funds towards running costs but it can make a donation to the scanner appeal to help buy and install the equipment.

NHS Shetland will cover the full costs of staffing and running the MRI service after the end of its first year.

The £500,000 grant will increase the trust’s maximum expenditure for 2020/21 to £10.5 million.

The NHS Shetland endowment committee, along with the team from the MRI Scanner Appeal, said it was “deeply grateful” for the grant.

Endowment committee trustee Gary Robinson said: “This donation means that the provision of an MRI scanning service in Shetland will soon be a reality. During this time of Covid, this has become more pertinent than ever.

“By having an MRI scanner on island we will dramatically reduce the journeys that Shetland patients need to take to the mainland for health reasons.

“This will help to reduce the exposure of vulnerable people to viruses like Covid-19 and also makes having a scan much less arduous for people who might be unwell.

“With this donation we have now raised more than £1.3 million – with about £350,000 to go.

“I would like to thank the Shetland community for everything they have done so far to make the provision of this service in Shetland a reality.

“We are almost there and with this latest generous donation, we should be able to begin the procurement process with a view to getting a scanner in place as soon as possible.

“This has been a major team effort that has had to keep going through one of the most serious health emergencies the world has ever known.”