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Health / Hopes MRI scanner is up and running by early summer

Modular parts of the MRI Scanner building being lifted in place on Wednesday. Photo: Jim Mullay

SHETLAND’s first permanent MRI scanner could be operational by early summer.

Work on the building which will house the scanner at Lerwick’s Gilbert Bain Hospital got underway on Wednesday, with modular parts being lifted into position by a large crane.

Last year the former estates building was demolished to make way for the work.

Director of nursing and acute services Prof Kathleen Carolan said the MRI scanner itself is due to arrive in mid-April.

“Once the MRI scanner is on-site, we will be able to start the work to undertake all of the necessary testing and setup of the scanner,” she said.

“We expect to see the first patients receiving their scans in early summer.

“So many people have worked on this project; huge thanks go to our medical imaging team, estates and facilities team, and to the various contractors who have helped us establish a local MRI service.

“This project has also been supported by NHS National Services Scotland, NHS Highland, and the Scottish Government who have provided vital specialist expertise and resources, without which we would not have been able to procure the MRI scanner.”

Chair of NHS Shetland’s endowment committee and non-executive board member Lincoln Carroll sought to thank the people of Shetland and the many donors and sponsors who helped to achieve the fundraising goal for the scanner.

“We have been overwhelmed by your generosity and the support you have given the health board to be able to move forward and purchase an MRI scanner,” he said.

“It has taken six years from the launch of the campaign, but it is fantastic that we are now so close to completing the project.

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“It will make such a difference being able to offer MRI scans locally; we will be able to provide appointments quicker, and most people will not need to travel to Aberdeen in the future for MRI scans.”

The final cost to bring the MRI scanner to Shetland now stands at an estimated £3.5 million, which was greater than first thought.

This figure includes the MRI scanner, the bespoke building, and operational running costs for the first year.

The additional costs are predominantly associated with the provision of the bespoke building that will house the MRI scanner and unforeseen earthworks in preparation for the site.

NHS Shetland said that due to global factors there has been a rise in the cost of building services and materials since the business case for the MRI was first approved in 2018.

Local and international fundraising from individuals and businesses has generated £1.9 million in committed contributions to the Shetland MRI scanner appeal fund.

To ensure that the project could move forward from the procurement stage to implementation, the Scottish Government has committed up to £1.6 million in financial capital support to NHS Shetland to cover the gap between the fundraising and the cost of the building the MRI scanner will be housed in.

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