Plans to install a new MRI scanner at Dr Gray’s Hospital to help ease waiting lists have moved a step forward.
It’s hoped that the new service will help tackle a backlog of patients and keep up with increased demand.
MRI vans are currently being used by NHS Grampian so more patients can be seen and last year more than 6,800 patients from across the region used this mobile service.
Pre-pandemic figures show that just over 2,300 patients booked in for MRIs were from the Moray area.
NHS Grampian has now approved the business case for the new facility which will be used to detect conditions such as brain tumours, MS, strokes and dementia.
Patients from as far south as Inverurie, in Aberdeenshire, will be given the opportunity to go to Dr Gray’s Hospital for MRI scan appointments.
Elgin MRI scanner: Are there any concerns about the new facility?
The MRI scanner will be installed in a new building next to the existing radiology department at Dr Gray’s Hospital.
However, concerns have been raised about construction works disrupting Pluscarden Clinic patients as well as people receiving treatment in ward 4.
These departments provide mental health care for Moray patients.
NHS Grampian is trying to find a solution and managers have highlighted that patients may need to be moved to either ward 7 or the Royal Cornhill Hospital in Aberdeen.
The Aberdeen option is expected to be available sooner for patients to be moved to temporarily.
NHS Grampian highlighted that this would also provide an opportunity to carry out upgrades to ward 4 at the hospital.
Patients would be moved while the work is carried out in Elgin which could last for more than a year.
It’s estimated that the new MRI facility could cost around £5.5M to build but construction costs could be higher due to rising prices.
Will there be enough staff to operate the new MRI facility?
Last year the Press and Journal highlighted that there was a shortage of staff in the radiology department at the Elgin hospital.
However, managers have now highlighted at a board meeting that several new radiographers had been taken on by the health board.
Working with local universities had also proved successful with the recruitment of radiographer support assistants.
It’s also hoped that having a brand new MRI service will also attract more staff to work in Moray in the future.
Managers say they remain “optimistic” that enough radiography staff will be found to work at the new facility despite recruitment difficulties in the past.