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Health / Mobile theatre unit and MRI scanner due next year as temporary measure to tackle waiting lists

Lerwick's Gilbert Bain Hospital.

A MOBILE operating theatre unit and MRI scanner are set to come to Shetland next year to tackle a backlog of procedures caused by the Covid pandemic.

The mobile theatre unit is expected to arrive in Shetland in early 2022, bringing extra capacity to the Gilbert Bain Hospital and allow more elective procedures to take place.

A mobile MRI scanner will also be brought on site so diagnostic services can be provided if needed.

A report to members of the NHS Shetland board on Tuesday said that this would significantly reduce “our reliance on the waits experienced by partner boards”.

It comes a report on feedback received by NHS Shetland 2020/21 shows that the majority of concerns were Covid related.

“People raised very understandable concerns and complaints about delays to treatment such as chemotherapy, nervousness about accessing necessary care such as infusions and blood transfusions and nervousness about not being able to access non-urgent care,” the report said.

It added that when it came to feedback about access to treatment, the “majority of concerns related to understanding the potential waits for non-urgent but significantly life improving orthopaedic operations”.

Director of nursing and active services Kathleen Carolan confirmed that while some existing staff will have the opportunity to be involved, some specialist workers will need to be drafted in.

The indicative timetable is for additional capacity to be provided between January and March.

While a temporary MRI scanner is due to come north, a permanent one is planned after the community raised more than £1.6 million.

Meanwhile a report from medical director Kirsty Brightwell noted that in Shetland there has been a continued reliance on temporary locum staff across the health board over the last year.

“Whilst it is acknowledged that there are associated cost implications using such a model, the individuals engaged by the board have been long term engagements which have ensured that services provided have remain safe, especially during the pandemic period,” she wrote.