Call for action on Downe scanner

Call for action on Downe scanner

13 March 2019

AN appeal has been issued to health chiefs to expedite a business case designed to pave the way for a new MRI scanner at the Downe Hospital.

The South Eastern Trust is currently in the process of making a case to provide the scanner — which takes detailed images of the inside of the body —  to submit to the Department of Health.

Trust officials say a scanner can only be provided at the Downpatrick hospital if the business case is successful and capital funding is provided by the Department of Health.

Politicians and health campaigners have highlighted the need for a purpose-built MRI suite at the hospital, with health officials agreeing that such a facility would be a real asset to the Downe.

Those campaigning for the high-tech equipment say it would ensure that additional MRI imaging capacity was available locally to facilitate increased demand in this area of imaging.

In addition, they argue that local access to such a scanner would further enhance the range of diagnostic services the Downpatrick hospital provides, ensuring local people would not have to travel outside the district to use such a facility.

The provision of a new scanner is also viewed as a major boost for the hospital where work is presently underway to prepare for the opening of a specialist centre of excellence for cataract surgery.

South Down MLA Colin McGrath and Downpatrick councillor John Trainor have this week appealed to health officials to complete work on the business case and submit it to the Department of Health.

Mr McGrath says he has emails on the MRI issue dating back over 12 months, suggesting the process is taking too long.

He says people want to see action to deliver the scanner, not continued mentions of the “endless administrative task” involved in making a successful case for the new equipment.

“There is a clear need for an MRI scanner based in Downpatrick. Having such high-tech equipment available locally would mean many people from the area would not have to travel long distances to have their tests carried out elsewhere,” Mr McGrath continued.

“Such a scan can be a worrying time and the fact that people have to travel to other places for the scan adds to the anxiety.”

Cllr Trainor said a mobile scanner currently in place at the Downe to ease pressure at the Ulster Hospital will only be there for a few more weeks.

“Does this fact not make the business case for the local health trust, too many people using the current scanner at the Ulster so one is required at the Downe? he asked.

“I hope local health officials will hurry up with their administrative work required to progress the business case to provide an MRI scanner in Downpatrick.”