Health & Fitness · 14 Aug 2020

Southland Hospital to Receive New MRI Scanner

Event Hub

Event Hub


Southland Hospital’s aging MRI scanner is to be removed and replaced by a new $1.6million scanner, believed to be the first of its kind in New Zealand.

Southern DHB Chief Executive Chris Fleming said 16 years ago the Southland community had fundraised to buy the current scanner for the former Southland District Health Board, and it had served the community well for many years.

“However, over the past 16 years technology has advanced, meaning that Southlanders have to travel to outside the province for special scans that the old scanner cannot provide. It is now time to replace this very old scanner with a new one that will allow more Southlanders to be treated closer to home, in their own community.

“The new scanner, supplied by Philips Healthcare, will be the first of its kind in New Zealand and will include features which will make the experience of having an MRI much more comfortable and less stressful for patients. This is expected to improve examination quality and reduce the number of general anaesthetics and sedation required for patients who experience anxiety due to claustrophobia or other concerns,” he said.

The old scanner will cease operation on 14 August and will be carefully decommissioned and replaced by the new one, with full services scheduled to resume on 1 October.

Services will continue to be provided for acute patients who require an MRI during this time.

Southern DHB’s Radiology Department is working in partnership with Pacific Radiology to access its local facilities for urgent scans for stable patients – although the number of emergency MRI requests is very low. Patients who are not considered stable, who require an urgent MRI, will be transferred to Dunedin Hospital.

In anticipation of the seven week decommissioning and installation, the Radiology Department has been working to reduce the waiting list for planned and elective patients by completing as many MRI scans as possible before 14 August.

As of 23 July there were 226 patients booked for an MRI scan at Southland Hospital. Of these, all but five have been offered an appointment and the majority will receive theirs prior to the outage. The remaining patients will receive their scans using the new scanner. Radiology staff will be contacting patients to advise them of the situation.

Mr Fleming thanked Southlanders for their patience while the old scanner is removed and the new one commissioned. “While the old scanner was a fantastic fundraising achievement that served Southlanders for many years, I’m delighted that the new scanner will soon be installed and that patients can be treated closer to home and more comfortably,” he said.

Frequently Asked Questions about Replacement of the MRI Scanner at Southland Hospital.

What is an MRI scanner?:

  • A magnetic resonance imaging scanner uses large magnet and radio waves to look at organs and structures within the body.

Why does Southland Hospital need a new MRI scanner?:

  • The current MRI scanner at Southland Hospital is 16 years old and technology has advanced since it was new. A new scanner will allow a greater variety of scans and will be more comfortable for patients. It means patients will no longer have to travel outside Southland for special scans.

How much will the new scanner cost and who will pay for it?:

  • The new scanner will cost $1.6million (excl GST) and will be paid for by the Southern District Health Board, which is funded by the Government. The old scanner was paid for by community fundraising 16 years ago in Southland.

How long will it take until the new scanner is operating?:

  • The old scanner will stop operating on 14 August 2020 and will be carefully decommissioned and removed. The new scanner will then be installed and commissioned. It is expected to take seven weeks. The new scanner is scheduled to begin scanning patients from 1 October.

What will happen to MRI services for Southlanders during that time?:

  • MRI services will still be available for acute patients who need an MRI scan. Acute patients who are stable will be scanned at local facilities owned by Pacific Radiology. Acute patients who need an MRI scan and are not considered to be stable will be transferred to Dunedin Hospital.

What about people who are on the waiting list for an MRI scan?

  • The Radiology Department has been preparing for the temporary outage of MRI scanner at Southland Hospital by working hard to reduce the waiting list by doing as many planned or elective scans as possible before 14 August.

Are you contacting patients to tell them what is happening?

  • Yes. Over coming weeks we will be contacting patients on the waiting list for planned and urgent scans to advise if their MRI will be done before 14 August, or after 1 October.

Who should people contact if they have questions?

Patients can contact the Radiology Department at Southland Hospital (03) 218-1949.

Members of the media should contact SDHB Communications on [email protected]