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Letters / ‘Cynical posturing’

The Liberal Democrat candidate’s attempts to make political capital out of the MRI scanner appeal are deplorable.

As she very well knows, the Shetland MRI appeal has succeeded beyond expectations, thanks to the generosity of the public and Shetland’s Charitable Trust.

More than enough money has now been raised to buy the scanner, install it in the Gilbert Bain Hospital and train the staff who will operate it.

All the running costs of the scanner, including staffing, will be met by the Scottish Government through its funding for Shetland’s NHS.

So why is Beatrice Wishart MSP now demanding that the Scottish Government should contribute to the capital cost?

Did she or her predecessor actually ask the health minister to fund the scanner when the Shetland NHS Endowment Fund started the appeal? If they did, it was kept very quiet.

The answer to such a request would have been the same as the response from Tavish Scott’s Liberal Democrat/Labour Party coalition at Holyrood, back in 2004-5, when Peter Malcolmson and others launched the public appeal to buy a Computer Aided Tomography (CT) scanner for our hospital: although it would obviously be of enormous benefit to patients who would no longer have to travel south for scans, the health board’s savings on patient travel costs did not outweigh the capital, training and staffing costs.

Like NHS Shetland the Scottish Government has to make a ‘business case’ to justify all its spending, so it is not in a financial position to install MRI scanners in every district general hospital in Scotland.

It would be wonderful if the Scottish Government could pay for scanners everywhere, but in the meantime the solution of a local appeal to buy the kit and Scottish Government money to operate it seems a sensible compromise.

The many good-hearted folk who contributed to the appeal must be as disappointed as I am with Beatrice Wishart’s cynical posturing.

Robbie McGregor (press officer for Tom Wills, SNP candidate for Shetland)

Beatrice Wishart’s original press release on the issue in which she called on the government to “seriously engage” with plans to install an MRI scanner, can be found here.