THERE are celebrations at Musgrove Park Hospital this Christmas after a campaign to raise £1 million was achieved.

In April, 2017, the campaign to raise the funds for a new magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner was launched after pressures on the existing two scanners started to have an impact on patient care.

The team at Love Musgrove, the hospital’s charity, launched the campaign with your County Gazette on April 27.

Since then, the community has come together to share their stories of a life-saving scan and to fundraise for the worthy cause.

People in Somerset have been taking part in many fundraising activities, including an Everest climb, coffee mornings, live music events, bike rides, walks, runs, masquerade balls, skydives, head shaves, a sponsored silence and plenty of street collections – raising an impressive £420,000.

The target has now been hit, and the new scanner will arrive at the hospital during the summer months of 2019, bringing with it shorter waiting times for patients.

Colin Drummond, chairman of Musgrove Park Hospital, said: “This is terrific news for our patients throughout Somerset. On behalf of everyone at the hospital I would like to thank all our many supporters who have made this possible.

“What makes it so special is that the bulk of the funding came from individuals and from a great number of local fundraising efforts.

“The warmth of community support is humbling and an inspiration to all who work at Musgrove - it makes us all the more determined to continue to give the best possible care to all our patients.”

The hospital says the other charities at Musgrove Park have also been incredibly supportive. The hospital’s League of Friends, Somerset Unit for Radiotherapy Equipment (SURE) and Wellington Hospital League of Friends have collectively contributed £220,000 to the campaign through fundraising of their own.

Love Musgrove has asked people who are still fundraising for the MRI scanner to continue to send in their donations as any additional support will go towards further improvements to benefit patients who use the MRI department.

With only two scanners at full capacity seven days a week, less urgent patients are having to wait longer for scans and some even had to travel as far as Bristol or Exeter.

Annie Maw, Lord-Lieutenant for Somerset and patron of the MRI scanner campaign, said it was fantastic news.

“I have taken a close eye on the progress of the campaign since it was launched,” she said.

“The imminent arrival of a third MRI scanner at Musgrove Park Hospital is great news for the Somerset community.”

The hospital says MRI scanners are important for many reasons. They are key to the diagnosis and monitoring of many illnesses and avoid the use of radiation as it uses a powerful magnetic field to produce detailed images.

MRI can image any part of the body, but is most commonly used to look at soft tissue structures like the brain, spinal cord, muscles and the organs of the abdomen and pelvis.

The scanners are particularly effective in looking for tumours, and can show how deeply a tumour has grown into body tissue and whether it has spread.

MRI can show the heart and the large blood vessels surrounding it, and this is particularly useful for diagnosing motional heart defects following a heart attack.

More than 10,000 people are in need of a scan each year, so the new one will mean more people can be seen and it will also open up available for important research projects.

Dr Stuart Walker, chief medical officer at Musgrove Park Hospital, said: “We use MRI scanning to investigate approximately 16,000 people each year in Somerset.

“A significant proportion of our patients require specialist treatment, requiring detailed imaging that allows accurate early diagnosis and adequate planning.

“MRI images provide the most detailed anatomical and pathological information, and do so without the use of radiation.

“For example this type of imaging has been extremely useful in the investigation of children and patients suffering from heart conditions.

“The new scanner is state of the art and will significantly increase our ability to scan the most complex patients, especially for cancer.

“As a trust we have been facing a rapidly growing demand for this type of imaging in the last few years.

“Despite using our existing two MRI scanners into the evenings and at weekends we are at a point where we need more capacity to meet the growing demand.

“An additional scanner would allow the hospital to continue delivering first-class healthcare to the people of Somerset and beyond, and deliver a number of benefits for our patients such as: better patient experience, additional MRI scanning capacity, faster scan times, a reduction in wait times, and increased availability to partake in research studies, such as the recent study on prostate cancer diagnosis.

Emotional stories about people needing to use an MRI scanner in daunting medical experiences have been reported in the County Gazette since the campaign launched, including the story of our own reporter, Oliver Palmen.

Paul Jones, editor of the County Gazette, said: “I’m delighted the community has rallied around to raise the funds for this vital piece of equipment, which will help so many people across our county.”