Scanner Appeal

We’ve had several people asking if there are other ways they can support the Shetland MRI Scanner appeal after buying a pattern. People have been following the link to the appeal’s own site, but here’s some background information about it to make it easier.

MRI RoutesFor context, the map here shows the journey patients must make if they require an MRI scan. These scan appointments are usually in either Aberdeen or Glasgow depending on the condition being treated, making use of specialist consultants in particular medical fields. When Shetland gets it’s own MRI scanner, those same consultants will still analyse and advise on the results, so patients will still access the best care possible.

Flights shown in red can take patients to both Glasgow and Aberdeen take between 1 and 2 hours roughly, but can be disrupted by weather, including fog in particular at Sumburgh Airport in Shetland. This can mean missed scan appointments causing a delay of several weeks for the next available slot. For patients travelling to Aberdeen, there’s an overnight ferry option, which takes between 12 and 14 hours each way but is slightly cheaper. This too can be disrupted, usually due to high winds. There is only one flight to and from Glasgow each day, which means patients sent there must stay overnight. The entire cost of these journeys and any necessary accommodation costs are currently funded by NHS Shetland, on top of the fee paid for the scan itself.

With over 600 patients (and rising) being sent for MRI scans every year, some several times, this is a huge financial burden on NHS Shetland. It accounts for at least £225,720 per year in travel costs alone currently and with a 68% increase in MRI scans performed between 2010 – 2015, that figure will keep rising.

Importantly however, the main benefit of Shetland having it’s own MRI scanner isn’t the financial burden on the local health board. Many patients requiring a scan must make this journey in extreme agony or find travel difficult in other ways due to their condition. Some, in the case of emergencies for example, need to be flown urgently by air ambulance and occasionally patients can have health issues which making it too risky to travel at all.

Through a combination of grant funding and a public fundraising campaign, the Shetland Health Board Endowment Fund aims to raise £2 million for an MRI Scanner located at the Gilbert Bain. Shetland could have its own MRI scanner, so that scans could be done here and sent to the same specialists who analyse them now. 

This would bring quicker access to diagnostic tests and reduce unnecessary patient travel, stress and inconvenience. The savings in patient travel will be put towards staffing the MRI Scanner.

For details of how you can support the Scanner appeal, see our donate page.