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Health / MRI scanner contract awarded – but project costs rise to £3.5m

It is expected that the service will be in place at the Gilbert Bain Hospital by mid-2024

Photo: Shetland News

THE ESTIMATED cost of providing an MRI scanner service in Shetland has risen to £3.5 million – but the local health board says it has been promised financial support to cover the gap.

The additional costs are predominantly associated with the provision of a bespoke building that will house the MRI scanner, and this is due to global factors and the rise in the cost of building materials since the business case for the MRI was first approved.

As a result of the successful community fundraising campaign, £1.9 million has been contributed locally so far to the Shetland MRI Scanner Appeal Fund.

To ensure that the project can move forward from the procurement stage to implementation, NHS Shetland has been promised up to £1.6 million in financial support to cover the cost of the building the MRI scanner will be located in.

The MRI scanner will be located in the grounds of the Gilbert Bain Hospital where the estates team was previously based. This is the reason for the recent demolition of the former estates building.

The £3.5 million figure includes the MRI scanner, the bespoke building and operational running costs for the first year.

Meanwhile the health board has confirmed that the tendering exercise for an MRI scanner for Shetland has now been successfully completed, with Philips Medical Systems awarded the contract to provide both the scanner and the bespoke building.

At present NHS Shetland expects that with the various enabling works required on the hospital site, and the time taken to fabricate the bespoke building, that the service will be in place by mid-2024.

NHS Shetland’s endowment committee chair Lincoln Carroll said: “I want to take this opportunity again to thank the people of Shetland for all the support and fund raising undertaken over the last few years to make having an MRI scanner in Shetland a reality.

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“The funding raised by the community and through significant individual donations will be used to purchase the MRI scanner which we expect to be in operation in Shetland from mid-2024.

“As the chair of the Endowment Committee, it is a pleasure to finally be able to gift the appeal funding to NHS Shetland to start the procurement of the MRI scanner.”

Kathleen Carolan, director of nursing and acute services, said: “Having a permanent MRI scanner in Shetland is going to make such a difference to patient care.

“We have already started work to prepare the hospital site for the new MRI scanner to be installed, and our clinical and technical teams are working with Philips Medical Systems to manage the project so that we have an MRI scanning service up and running as soon as it is safe to do so.

“In the interim, the Scottish Government is funding a visiting MRI service, which will continue until we have our permanent scanner in place next year. NHS Shetland staff are helping to deliver the visiting service so that they can gain the necessary skills to be able to provide the MRI service on a permanent basis from 2024 onwards.

“This is another amazing example of the generosity of our community in Shetland and support for local health and care.”

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

More than 600 patients from Shetland are said to 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.

People can still make donations to the Shetland MRI scanner appeal.

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