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Coronavirus / Donation offer to MRI scanner appeal generates mixed reactions

THE FUNDRAISING manager of the £1.65 million MRI scanner appeal has expressed his gratitude to the Viking Energy wind farm benefit fund for its offer to donate £200,000 towards the community effort.

The chairman of the campaign group opposing the wind farm has meanwhile condemned the offer as a “PR stunt” to divert attention away from the adverse publicity the construction work attracts.

Shetland Community Benefit Fund Ltd confirmed on Monday that a decision to make the donation has been made “in principle”.

MRI appeal in line to receive £200,000 from wind farm benefit fund

MRI fundraising chief Derek Hart said the offer by the Shetland Community Benefit Fund would be discussed Shetland Health Board endowment committee in the coming days.

“An MRI Scanner for Shetland, especially in light of the pandemic, is more important now than ever. No one wants to travel unless they really have to,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sustainable Shetland chairman Frank Hay said: “If you read the letter from the community benefit fund to the community councils it is clear that the donation is, in effect, an advance payment of money from the amount already set aside by SSE for community benefit.

“It is not new money from Viking/SSE. Indeed, the community benefit fund could have chosen to donate the sum from the £400,000 that they will receive this year.”

The MRI scanner appeal was launched on the weekend of the NHS’ 70th birthday in July 2018.

To date £866,896 has been fundraised, excluding a commitment from the Shetland Charitable Trust to donate £500 000.

One of the biggest donations so far has been £100,000 from seven pelagic fishing families in Whalsay.

Following the charitable trust’s commitment, the first stages of procurement were initiated, Hart said, adding that this would assist in confirming the project’s overall cost.

Having the MRI scanner at Gilbert Bain Hospital in Lerwick would help to cut out journeys to Aberdeen for over 600 Shetland patients per year who at the moment have no choice but to travel south to have a scan.

MRI scanners can diagnose cancer, strokes, heart conditions and many other conditions.