In 2017, Leeds Hospitals Charity launched a £2.4 million pounds ‘MR Sim’ fundraising appeal to purchase the machine. Thanks to the generosity of the people of Leeds, and significant contributions from Sovereign Health Care, the Wilby family, Caravan Guard, the Cavill family, and the Scarcliffe family, the target was met in 2019. Due to the pandemic, the machine’s installation was delayed until late 2022, with the MRI first in use in April 2023.
The Radiotherapy Department at Leeds Cancer Centre is one of a handful of radiotherapy departments in England to offer this imaging technology to benefit patients. The Trust says the high-definition, high-contrast images produced will enable patients to receive more precise, targeted treatments, while reducing the risk of treatment related side-effects. Last year, the Department – one of one Europe’s largest – delivered 80,000 treatments to almost 7,000 patients from across Yorkshire. The MR Sim technology has the potential to benefit patients with a wide range of cancers, including of the head and neck, pelvis, and brain.
David Sebag-Montefiore, Professor of Clinical Oncology at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and the University of Leeds, and director of the Leeds Cancer Research Centre and the CRUK RadNet Centre of Excellence in Leeds, said of the difference the new MRI simulator will make: “For decades we have been limited to using CT scans to see the tumour and plan radiotherapy for our patients. Through ground-breaking research performed here in Leeds and other research centres across the world we are now able to use MRI scans to provide more targeted treatment.”
He continued: “The Leeds radiotherapy team worked closely with Leeds Hospitals Charity, and world-leading industry partners to realise this project, which will be transformational, allowing us to more precisely target tumours. As well as benefiting patients treated today, the MR Sim provides the opportunity for patients to participate in radiotherapy research that will help us make progress quicker, and find new ways to develop ‘smarter, kinder’ radiotherapy treatments. We are so grateful to Leeds Hospitals Charity and all the donors for their amazing support; this would not have happened without it.”
Stephen McMillan, Solutions lead at Philips UK & Ireland, said: “We are delighted to mark another exciting milestone with the new Philips MRI-Simulator at Leeds Teaching Hospitals – revolutionising radiotherapy treatment for people across Yorkshire. It has been a true team effort, with our clinical science and applications specialists providing support and training during the clinical commissioning phase to optimise the MR-Sim with all the radiotherapy supporting equipment, ensuring it gives the Leeds radiotherapy team high image quality, adapted to the team’s treatment planning needs.”
John Muolo, Executive vice-president and director of Strategic Relationships at Ergéa, said:
“At Ergéa, we support our partners in delivering clinical care and excellent patient experience by facilitating a strategic selection and implementation of the best equipment, technology, and systems, that fit their present and future needs. For this project, we have worked closely with the hospital staff through the design, commissioning, and installation of the equipment, and we will continue providing ongoing support, including maintenance and training.”
Helen Christodoulides, Chief Nurse at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “The MRI Sim’s installation will transform the way radiotherapy treatment is delivered to cancer patients, enable the team here to significantly improve radiotherapy treatment planning, and ensure that as much of the tumour area is targeted without irradiating surrounding areas. It will reduce both short-term and long-term side effects for patients, and sits perfectly alongside the equally important emotional, physical, and psychological support we can give our patients and their families.”