Opening of world class scanning centre will kickstart new fundraising campaign to improve regional medical facilities
A charity which could establish Hull, East Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire as a UK-leading region for detection and research in cancer, heart disease and dementia is planning to build on the £20m it has invested over the last 20 years as it counts down towards the long-awaited opening of its latest facility.
The Daisy Appeal expects to take delivery of the Molecular Imaging Research Centre (MIRC) at Castle Hill Hospital in November and will then embark on the operational commissioning and licensing procedures with the aim of producing radiotracers to treat patients and conduct research early in 2024.
Prof Nick Stafford, chair of the charity which he launched in 2002, said the focus will then turn to raising funds to buy a full-body PET CT scanner, to meet annual running costs estimated at £700,000 and to generate more income from research activities and commercial work.
Prof Stafford confirmed that the impact of the pandemic was behind the four-year delay to complete work on the MIRC. It was originally due for delivery late in 2019 but after relatively minor issues pushed that back a few months the project was hit hard by the impact of the Covid pandemic.
“The longer these things take, the more vulnerable they are to challenges cropping up. Covid prevented the delivery of essential equipment and components, and it wrecked the travel plans of some of the experts we needed to put everything together.
“Even relatively small issues became bigger because they were more difficult to deal with, and of course the cost went up. The initial estimate was just over £6.2m and it’s now about £8.7m.
“But what we will have is a world-class facility which has already delivered huge benefits during the construction process and which will be enhanced by the investment plans which we have now announced.
“We identified a significant number of risks, all of which have occurred in some shape or form, but we are now close to the day when it will be handed over and our confidence is buoyed by the challenges we have overcome.”
The Daisy Appeal has secured support from businesses, other organisations and the wider public to fund the opening of the original Daisy Appeal Medical Research Centre at Castle Hill in 2008 and the Jack Brignall PET-CT Scanning Centre, housing the first in a new type of Siemens scanner in the country, in 2014.
The MIRC has its own cyclotron to produce radiotracers for use on patients undergoing diagnostic procedures in the Jack Brignall Centre, which is immediately next door. The aim is to improve accuracy and detection rates for cancer, heart disease and dementia in Hull, East Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire, and to become a pioneering research centre in the UK.
The investment by the Daisy Appeal and the work of its partners from the University of Hull and the Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust is attracting top medical and research talent to East Yorkshire to work under Dr Azeem Saleem, Clinical Director of the umbrella body Hull Molecular Imaging Centres (HuMIC) and Reader and Honorary Consultant in Clinical Oncology at Hull York Medical School.
Their combined efforts have helped the University secure membership of the elite UK PET Network, joining Imperial College London, King’s College London and the Universities of Cambridge, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Oxford.
Dr Saleem said:
“The total investment in the MIRC alone is around £15m, with the majority of that from the Daisy Appeal and a significant amount from the University in terms of staffing. We need more staff in basic, translational and clinical sciences, AI and modelling and business engagement. As a leading imaging centre, we want to develop and address the unmet need for imaging services and research at centres in the UK and especially in the north of England.
“That will help us achieve our vision of becoming a renowned translational clinical imaging centre, providing clinical and research imaging needs to the regional population and continuing to work collaboratively with national and international centres to advance imaging research.”
David Haire, Project Director Fundraising for Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said:
“The Daisy Appeal has brought added value to the services we provide and the research that we undertake but we need to focus on the new challenges.
“The existing scanner currently scans 4,200 people a year but it is 10 years old and past its sell-by date so it has been recommended that we purchase a new, full body scanner with lower radiation exposure to patients. That will enable us to do more scans in less time and increase capacity to 7,000 scans a year.
“But the initial cost is £3m and scaling it up to carry out full-body scans will take that to £7.5m, with increased running costs. Linked to all of that is the recognition that the cost of running the MIRC in a full year is more than £700,000.
“Current income is about £320,000 per annum from the use of the scanner. We need to increase the use of the scanner for research and bring in revenue from other sources. We know we can do that because partnership working has proved to be a very effective model in terms of attracting resources.”
To find out more about the Daisy Appeal visit https://daisyappeal.org/
Main picture details
Picture of the new MIRC which will be handed over next month.