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Wed, 12th February 2020

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A number of members and their families have benefited the scanning services offered by Cobalt Health and it was for this reason that Royal Union Lodge decided to support this local charity with a donation of £1,500.  W Bros Philip Jones and Geoff Davis (Charity Steward) visited Linton House in Thirlestaine Road in early January to present the cheque to Malcolm MacKeith – Finance Director and Karen Hackling-Searle – Head of MRI Services.


Cobalt is a medical charity based in Cheltenham helping people affected by cancer, dementia and other conditions.  They were set up over 50 years ago by local Gloucestershire doctor Fred Hanna. The charity focuses on offering equipment and services not generally available within the NHS and they have some sophisticated and innovative scanning equipment that uses the latest technology at their imaging centre in Cheltenham. The imaging centre houses two advanced MRI scanners and a Positron Emission Tomography/Computerised Tomography (PET/ CT) scanner. These scanners have been designed to improve patient comfort, enable shorter scanning times and deliver superior image quality. Cobalt also have eight scanners that travel throughout the UK to support NHS hospitals and other medical facilities where they are needed. 


The PET/CT scanner uses a radioactive isotope to identify potential cancer cells. A new isotope has been developed to identify prostate cancer. PSMA (Prostate Specific Membrance Antigen) PET/CT is particularly useful for men who have been treated for prostate cancer and are in remission (but under surveillance with regular blood tests) to make sure that they are clear of the disease. It enables doctors to identify cancer early and therefore start treatment early. Cobalt working with Professor Ian Lyburn, Cobalt’s Medical Director, was the first PET/CT service in the country to use the new PSMA isotope. 


The charity has also supported breast cancer screening in Gloucestershire since the early 90s by providing accommodation and equipment for the Gloucestershire Breast Cancer Screening Service and £338,000 was raised through a successful campaign last year to provide a new 3D Mammography system, to assist in the diagnosis of breast cancer. The charity is now raising funds for two Breast Cancer Research Nurses based at the Thirlestaine Breast Centre to identify suitable and willing patients to take part in local breast cancer research trials in Gloucestershire. The research nurses will facilitate the delivery of high quality clinical trials and studies, getting new treatments and diagnostic methods into the clinic sooner and are a key interface between researchers, health professionals and people taking part in clinical research.  The initial salary costs are £200,000 over a three-year period. As the research portfolio builds the Centre will attract funding. With careful forecasting, the charity anticipates that these roles will be fully self-funded through the research activities planned within three years. These research roles are not currently funded by the NHS which means that they need full charitable support.   The charity also support and participate in local, national and international research for dementia and cancer research. 

The delivery of high quality services to our patients

‘We would also not be able to continue to invest in the very latest technology without the support of our donors and volunteers, many of whom have supported Cobalt for many years. We are very grateful for the support of the Royal Union Lodge.’ Karen Hackling-Searle, Head of MRI Services.