SWINGING his legs off the edge of a huge MRI scanner, Warren Hubble clearly has no fear of the machine.

That is one of the main reasons a £2.5m appeal was launched to buy state-of-the-art MRI scanners for Bishop Auckland Hospital and Darlington Memorial Hospital.

County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust says they will provide much improved images for medical diagnosis and a better experience for patients as they are wider, quieter and can even display sensory lighting and play music.

Seven-year-old Warren, from Sacriston, was one of the first patients to benefit from the first of the scanners which has been installed at Bishop Auckland.

The youngster was scanned for ongoing tests into why he has passed out and struggled to breath recently and without the new scanner, medics may have had to anaesthetise him.

Dad Wayne Hubble said it was a relief to Warren and his family that he did not have to go to sleep for the scan, but admits he was doubtful the lively tot would lie still throughout the 30 minute scan.

He said: “It would have been worse to see him sent to sleep, this way I was nearby the whole time and could see he was fine.

“While he was in there he was changing the light colours and listening to pop music, he could hear the staff reassuring him and was perfectly relaxed.

“It was a lot less stressful than it might have been, and it saves the NHS money to not have to anaesthetise.”

And Warren’s opinion of the experience: “I was not quite scared, it was fine.”

Manufacturer Philips agreed to fit the first scanner at Bishop Auckland so medics could start making use of it but, with £640,000 raised so far, a lot of money is still needed to pay it off and for a second to be installed at Darlington Memorial Hospital.

Dr Elizabeth Loney, consultant radiologist and care group director for clinical specialist services, said: "I’m delighted that our patients can now benefit from this innovate technology at Bishop Auckland Hospital and look forward to the installation of our Darlington Memorial Hospital scanner too, once building work to accommodate it is completed during the spring.

“Modern scanners play an important part in helping our consultants diagnose and determine treatment plans for what can be life threatening or life limiting conditions, including many types of cancer and heart disease.

“Previously patients may have had to undergo exploratory and sometimes invasive surgery to support the diagnostic process.

“This advanced technology, which provides detailed and high quality images, will help reduce many such interventions, improving the patient experience.

“We’ve been amazed and very touched by the generosity of local people who have donated to our appeal.

“Individuals, groups, associations and local businesses have all stepped-up, recognising the huge benefits these scanners will bring. It’s important that this generosity and fundraising continues throughout 2018.”