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Health / Tendering process underway for MRI scanner

Lerwick's Gilbert Bain Hospital. Photo: Shetland News

THE SHETLAND MRI scanner project has reached a “key milestone” as the tendering process gets underway.

NHS Shetland expects a preferred supplier for equipment and facilities to be identified by the end of the year.

Work will be undertaken in 2022 to prepare the Gilbert Bain Hospital site, which will include the addition of new supplies for power and other utilities and the demolition of some older buildings to make space for the MRI department.

During 2023 the health board will begin the purchase, installation and commissioning process with the aim of the MRI scanner being fully operational by autumn 2023.

As previously reported, NHS Shetland is looking into getting a mobile MRI scanner to the isles in the interim.

The fundraising total of donations received for the MRI scanner project to date is £1,419,361.

This figure does not include the pledge from Shetland Charitable Trust up to £500,000 to help NHS Shetland meet the scanner equipment costs which will be known following the procurement exercise.

The total fundraising target was set at £1.65 million.

Director of nursing and acute services Kathleen Carolan said: “We are really pleased to be at the stage of tendering to purchase the MRI scanner which will help us to understand when the MRI will be in Shetland, fully installed and ready for patient care.

“Our clinical and technical teams have worked really hard to keep the project on track during 2021 but there have been some inevitable delays due to the impact of the pandemic, particularly on the supply of complex medical equipment which is a global issue and has added six to nine months to the timescales in which we hoped to have the MRI scanner in place.

“In order to bring MRI services to Shetland as soon as we can, we are working with the Scottish Government to look at how we can access a more limited mobile MRI scanning service until our permanent MRI scanner is in place.

“Not only will this allow some people to access MRI scans locally, but it also means that our radiography staff will be able to run the service and help train and maintain skills in the meantime.”

Lincoln Carroll, chair of the NHS Shetland endowment committee which oversaw the MRI fundraising effort, said: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank our community and all the other donors for their fundraising efforts which has made it possible for us to bring MRI services to Shetland.

“It is a truly remarkable community fund raising effort and will make an enormous difference to the lives of so many people.

“The benefit to all of the Shetland community cannot be underestimated.”

At the moment people in Shetland needing an MRI scan have to travel to Aberdeen.

Over 600 patients from Shetland travel south to have an MRI scan each year.

MRI scanners can diagnose cancer, strokes, heart conditions and many other conditions and having one in Lerwick would complement the existing CT scanner, which uses X-rays and a computer to create detailed images of the inside of the body.