O’Neill opens new £4million MRI Unit at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children

Date published: 19 October 2016


Health Minister Michelle O’Neill today officially opened the new £4million MRI Unit at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children

Welcoming this new addition to paediatric services at the hospital, the Minister said: “As Minister for Health, I am strongly committed to protecting and improving the quality and safety of health and social care services. This MRI scanner has been a long time in planning and I am delighted to see that it is now up and running. Since the scanner became fully operational earlier this year 1,448 children have been scanned, roughly 30 children per week, which will ease the pressure on the Royal’s scanners. Waiting lists for paediatric MRI have also been greatly reduced since it became operational.”

The MRI scanner at the Children’s Hospital cost around £4million and has been fully operational since March 2016. Funding of more than £1.5million was raised by the Children’s MRI Scanner Appeal, which is a collective of four local charities – Helping Hand (charity to the RBHSC), Carrickmannon Trust, Children’s Cancer Unit Charity and the children’s Heartbeat Trust.

The Health Minister thanked those who helped to raise funds for the scanner saying: “I would like to thank all those who have helped to raise the funds that have enabled this MRI to be installed in the children’s hospital. I am aware that the fund raising campaign took place over a number of years. This is a really good example of how our communities, the third sector and our health service can all work together to achieve better outcomes for our people, especially children.

“We must continue to make the health and well-being of people here better. We need to work together to deliver the best possible health outcomes for the people we serve and to tackle the inequalities which exist.”

Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride commented: “I am delighted that Minister O’Neill is here today to officially open the MRI scanner at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children. On behalf of Belfast Trust  I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the huge  input and generosity of the charities involved and the contribution made by so many, including schools, business, community groups, a large number of families, the public and of course the funding and support  from the Health and Social Care Board. In particular, the Trust would like to sincerely thank the four charities that make up the Children's MRI Scanner Appeal - Helping Hand, Carrickmannon MRI Scanner Children’s Appeal, NI Children’s Cancer Unit Fund and Children’s Heartbeat Trust.”

Before the scanner was installed children who were patients at the RBHSC were transferred to the Royal Victoria Hospital when they required MRI examinations and paediatric lists were produced daily to accommodate those children. Paediatric MRI scanning can be particularly challenging because many children need to have general anaesthetic because they cannot lie still for long periods of time while the scans are being taken.

Notes to editors: 

  1. Media enquiries about this press release to DoH Press Office on 028 9052 0575, or out of office hours contact to Duty Press Officer via pager number 07623 974 383 and your call will be returned. 
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