Light at the end of the tunnel for Louth's Scanner Appeal?

A long-running fundraising appeal for an MRI scanner to be based at Louth County Hospital has been given a huge boost after plans for an '˜MRI suite' were submitted to ELDC.

Louth County Hospital.

The proposal, submitted on behalf of United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT), would see the conversion of an existing hospital storage building to provide an MRI suite with extraction pipe.

The good news comes after many years of fundraising for the appeal, which was launched by former councillor Trevor Marris during his mayoral year in 2003/04.

Speaking this week, town and district councillor Pauline Watson, said: “I’d had a lot of enquiries from people asking me what was going on with the money.

Louth County Hospital.

“They were getting very concerned because it was over 15 years ago (when fund-raising for the scanner began).

“In 2016, when I was deputy mayor and also on the Health Scrutiny Committee for Lincolnshire, I decided to ask the question.

“I asked the chief executive what had happened to all this money that was collected.

“I was told by the chairman at the time that this was not the forum for that, so I came away and got all the interested parties together, and so I facilitated the way forward.

“This is the outcome, and we’ve got this planning application today.”

Coun Watson said she did not know why progress with the appeal seemed to have stalled until her intervention, and continued: “All I knew was that (the fundraising) had been going on for such a long time, and that in a way - with all the uncertainty about hospitals and the ULHT - it would probably be a very good thing to resurrect the scanner appeal, and that might be some kind of help to making sure that the future of Louth was guaranteed.

“This MRI suite would allow more of our patients to be scanned locally by bringing the service into the rural community, and will take pressure off our other MRI sites at Pilgrim and Lincoln.

“Hopefully we will be given a state-of-the-art machine that will prove to be invaluable in years to come.”

Coun Watson added: “I know it’s been 15 years, and people have been getting aggravated and agitated, but everything that’s worthwhile is worth waiting for - and hopefully this will be a wonderful start to the year.”

ULHT’s Chief Executive, Jan Sobieraj, said: “Fundraising has been ongoing for a number of years and we’ve been exploring whether we have sufficient funds between us for the project.

“These kinds of projects are complex, and we are still in the very early planning stages.

“We will continue to work with the fundraisers to explore when and how we can use this wonderful opportunity made possible by local people.”