£2.75m scanner is early Christmas gift

A NEWBUILDINGS mother who almost lost her daughter to the rare illness, disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM), said Christmas had come early with the announcement that the Royal Hospital for Sick Children is to get an MRI scanner costing £2.75 million.

Sharon Slater, from Duncastle Park, whose daughter Millie fought back against ADEM just two years ago, said that the family was “amazed” and “delighted” by the announcement last week by Health Minister Edwin Poots, who was attending a ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ fundraising event for the development of the paediatric scanner service.

“We are amazed. We cannot believe it. We were there when the Minister made his announcement. It was completely out of the blue, nobody was expecting it.

“The scanner is for use by families all over Northern Ireland and the announcement is great because it means that the children don’t have to travel from the Children’s Hospital to the main hospital for a scan,” she said.

Since Millie’s illness David and Sharon Slater have worked diligently to raise money for a scanner, and across Northern Ireland a total of £1.7 million was raised. That money will now be used to offset running costs and staffing for the new scanner.

“We are delighted. It is like Christmas has come early,” Mrs Slater said.

Making the announcement the Minister said: “Ensuring access to appropriate diagnostic services is essential in the treatment of children. That is why the provision of MRI Scanner services within the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children is a real priority. I am delighted to announce that I have conditionally approved the business case in respect of the scanner and will invest £2.75m from my Department’s capital expenditure programme for this project.

“The Health and Social Care Board will provide ongoing running costs of £1.9m per year. This total investment will be complemented by £2m funds raised through the Scanner Appeal. I would like to thank and congratulate all those who have been involved in raising much needed funds for the Scanner Appeal. This partnership working will ensure this vital service is delivered and your commitment will make a real difference to the children and families in need of these facilities.”

The new scanner is scheduled to be on site by late next year or early in 2014.