Design work on a project to install a new MRI scanner at Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin is due to start immediately.
The equipment has been planned for the Moray unit as part of a £55million upgrade.
It is hoped the new scanner will reduce waiting times in Aberdeen while reducing journey times for patients in Elgin and surrounding communities.
NHS Grampian has now confirmed to Moray MSP Richard Lochhead that design work on the unit has been commissioned with an “immediate timeframe”.
‘These are the investments we need at Dr Gray’s’
The project to bring a new MRI scanner to Dr Gray’s was confirmed by NHS Grampian in 2019, but was dependent on funding being secured.
The equipment uses radio waves and magnets to develop internal images of patients’ bodies.
They are most commonly used on the brain and spinal cord, bones and joints, breasts, heart and blood vessels and internal organs including the liver, womb or prostate.
Analysing the images after scans, which can last between 15 and 90 minutes, helps medics diagnose conditions, plan treatments and assess how effective previous procedures have been.
Mr Lochhead said: “I’m pleased we now have a firmer timescale for getting the business case completed and approved, and I’ll be seeking assurances from NHS Grampian that management are also working to ensure we have the staff we need to deliver the service so as to avoid any delays in getting it up and running.
“These are the kind of investments we need NHS Grampian to be making in Dr Gray’s to ensure that here in Moray we have a general hospital that meets the needs of the local population.”
In a letter to Mr Lochhead, NHS Grampian chief executive Caroline Hiscox explained design work on the new MRI suite at Dr Gray’s had been “started in earnest”.
She added: “We have asked the Dr Gray’s Hospital management team to lead on the implementation phase of the project, working with the local multi-disciplinary clinical team to ensure the project design is fit for purpose.
“The Dr Gray’s MRI implementation group has been asked to develop a business case for approval by spring 2022.
“The new facility will, as you note, bring a range of benefits to the hospital and for the Moray and west Grampian population, offering reduced scanning times, increased image quality and a range of advanced scanning techniques.
“It will also reduce the need for patients to travel to Aberdeen or Inverness for some MRI scans.”