A NEW £1.5 million scanner to help speed up diagnosis and treatment of cancer patients has been bought thanks to an “incredible” gift from a small Downend-based charity.
Members and supporters of BUST have put money from more than 10 years of “tireless fundraising” towards buying the scanner, which is housed at Cossham Hospital.
It will cut waiting times for women who need MRI scans for breast and gynaecological cancer, and men who need prostate scans.
The advanced Siemens MAGNETOM Vida 3T MRI scanner, among the first of its kind in the country, will also be used for monitoring patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment, other outpatient scans and breast cancer imaging research.
It adds to the scanning capacity of the Bristol Breast Care Centre, which is based at Southmead Hospital and performs more than 700 scans every year.
North Bristol NHS Trust, which runs both hospitals, says the new scanner will “shorten the treatment pathway by reducing the current wait times for a scan”.
The money to buy and maintain the scanner for ten years was donated by BUST (Breast Cancer Unit Support Trust), a volunteer-run charity which has raised more than £3 million over the past 30 years, to buy hi-tech equipment the unit couldn’t otherwise afford.
The charity is run from Downend by a small team of volunteers who claim no expenses.
BUST founder and trustee Simon Cawthorn, a retired breast surgeon, said: “This new MRI scanner has taken more than ten years of tireless fundraising of all kinds – from individual and corporate donations to runs, raffles and cake sales.
“Breast cancer patients and their families have been especially generous in enabling future patients to benefit from the best possible technology.”
North Bristol NHS Trust chief executive Maria Kane said: “We are extremely grateful to BUST for this incredible gift, which will benefit everyone who lives within our catchment area, especially people who now or in the future develop breast, prostate, or gynaecological cancers.”
She said the new scanner will help the trust lead cutting-edge national breast cancer research, which will lead to earlier diagnosis for local women.
The scanner was officially opened on January 9 by Lord-Lieutenant of Bristol Peaches Golding, who said: “As someone with personal experience of breast cancer, I’m so pleased to be able to honour BUST’s incredible fundraising efforts in purchasing this scanner and to open it officially.
“The NHS has looked after me incredibly well. Having a charity like BUST supporting breast cancer patients by going the extra mile really does help, by ensuring we have the best possible equipment to enable earlier diagnosis and improve health outcomes.”