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MRI scanner gives pioneering vet the right image

An internationally acclaimed veterinary surgeon, who paved the way for bionic limb surgery on 7/7 survivors, has received multi-million pound assistance from Clydesdale Bank.

Surrey-based Noel Fitzpatrick hit the headlines last year when, in a world first, he gave Storm, a Belgian Shepherd dog, an artificial prosthesis that allowed skin to grow over a metal implant, thereby preventing infection.

The technique has subsequently been used to give prosthetic arms to two human patients who lost limbs in the London bombings.

Now, in another first, he has purchased a state-of-the-art closed field MRI scanner for his new practice at Eashing, near Godalming, furthering the cross-pollination of ideas and techniques between animal and human surgery.

“Veterinary medicine is moving into a new era with people demanding a level of care for animals they see as part of their family that is comparable to or exceeds that which we give to humans,” said Noel.

“The closed field MRI scanner allows us insight at a level that simply wasn’t available before. It gives us the maximum diagnostic efficacy in the minimum time allowing us to make the most expedient decision for the patient. It also generates significant revenue for the surgery.”

Fitzpatrick Referrals – which provides orthopaedic and neurosurgical diagnosis, treatment and aftercare to dogs and cats – is the only veterinary surgery in Europe to deploy such a powerful piece of equipment. 

The £620,000 Siemens Medical Solutions MAGNETOM Symphony scanner was bought as part of a £5million package of funding agreed with Clydesdale Bank’s Financial Solution’s Centre (FSC) in Guildford.  The deal also enabled the renowned surgeon to purchase the freehold to his practice and continue its expansion into a worldwide centre of excellence, combining compassionate care with surgical and diagnostic excellence.

After having difficulties securing funding elsewhere, Noel –  who employs six other surgeons plus support staff  at Fitzpatrick Referrals – decided to approach Clydesdale Bank’s FSC because it can sign off multi-million pound deals locally, and agree high levels of lending for major investment.

“Clydesdale Bank has been very supportive about dealing with an innovative, dynamic business which has not always been the case in my experience with other banks. They have had the vision and tenacity of purpose to stick with the concept through to the end and I have no hesitation in saying that without Clydesdale Bank this would not have happened.”

Kevin Bleakley, Business Banking Partner at Guildford FSC, said the ability to make local lending decisions played a key role in role in enabling the Bank to structure this deal.
He said: “One of the main elements of the lending decision is about backing Noel Fitzpatrick personally, believing in his ability and his business plan.

“So being able to meet him and see him in action – we sat in on a consultation – enabled our Credit Partner to truly understand the opportunity which would have been difficult if he was simply relying upon a report.”

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