A new mobile MRI scanner at Daisy Hill Hospital will not be operational for a number of weeks due to “some issues” discovered during testing this week.
Earlier this month a new MRI scanner for the under-pressure hospital arrived on site to help address overall waiting times across the Trust area.
Currently, the Trust has two MRI scanners – both at Craigavon – with inpatients from other hospitals and Daisy Hill ED requiring transfer for MRI investigations.
Approximately 20 patients are transferred from Daisy Hill to Craigavon each week by ambulance for MRI scans.
The new scanner will be leased for an initial nine month period with the Trust stating previously that this will be kept under review whilst a longer term solution is confirmed.
However, in a statement, the Southern Trust said it identified “some issues” during tests of the equipment in Newry on Wednesday.
Belfast Live reported how one female patient, who was due to attend for an MRI scan on Friday after a 13-month wait for an appointment, had to have it postponed due to the technical issues.
A spokesperson for the Trust said: “A temporary MRI scanner arrived on the Daisy Hill site on 5th July, as part of our recent stability plans to support inpatient medical services at the hospital.
“It is hoped that the new scanner will help to address MRI waiting times and reduce the need to transfer patients to other hospitals for diagnosis.
“We were optimistic that we would have the scanner up and running this week, with our first appointments booked for Thursday, July 20.
“As part of the acceptance process, all new equipment undergoes medical physics tests to ensure that it is operating effectively. Having identified some issues during these tests on Wednesday, we have decided to delay our first scans until we are satisfied that it is safe for clinical use.
“We are working closely with the supplier and medical physics to have the scanner up and running as soon as possible. We have contacted all patients who were booked in to apologise for any inconvenience and will rearrange their appointments in the coming weeks.”
The Daisy Hill scanner is due to be leased for an initial nine-month period but this will be kept under review until a longer-term solution is confirmed.
Approximately 20 patients are transferred from Daisy Hill to Craigavon Hospital each week by ambulance for MRI scans.
The Trust said its longer-term plan is to secure funding and develop a diagnostic suite for the hospital, including a permanent MRI scanner.