Mid­land MRI scan- dal

Avon Valley Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Lynn Gri­er­son

A LO­CAL po­lit­i­can says east metropoli­tan res­i­dents health could be risk without a fully li­censed MRI ser­vice at Mid­land hos­pi­tal.

Un­like other ar­eas of metropoli­tan Perth, pa­tients us­ing the St John of God pub­lic hos­pi­tal can­not ac­cess the full range of MRI ser­vices un­der Medi­care.

Swan Hills MLA Jes­sica Shaw and East Metropoli­tan Re­gion MLC Matthew Swin­bourn are call­ing on the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment to is­sue a full MRI li­cence.

Ms Shaw raised her con­cerns in State Par­lia­ment this week while urg­ing res­i­dents to sign a pe­ti­tion.

“It is com­pletely un­ac­cept­able that peo­ple in El­len­brook and the Hills do not have full Medi­care ac­cess to MRI ser­vices at the lo­cal SJOG Mid­land Pub­lic Hos­pi­tal,” she said.

“My con­stituents have to pay up to $ 1000 per scan for some ser­vices at the pub­lic hos­pi­tal. If they are able to travel to Royal Perth, Fre­man­tle or Sir Charles Gaird­ner hos­pi­tals, or the Joon­dalup Health Cam­pus, those same scans would be cov­ered by Medi­care.”

Ms Shaw said it would cost the Gov­ern­ment an ex­tra $ 500,000 a year to pro­vide a full MRI ser­vice in Mid­land.

“A lot of peo­ple in this area are do­ing it tough; many of them sim­ply can’t af­ford to pay for th­ese ser­vices,” she said.

“I'm wor­ried they might put off treat­ment for can­cer, in­juries or di­a­betes. They may also be re­liant on pub­lic trans­port and not able to eas­ily ac­cess other hos­pi­tals.

“Why does the East Metropoli­tan re­gion al­ways miss out? Things need to change.”

St John of God Mid­land hos­pi­tal chief ex­ec­u­tive Michael Ho­gan said the hos­pi­tal’s MRI scan­ner at Perth Ra­di­o­log­i­cal Clinic was par­tially funded by Medi­care, mean­ing some pa­tients had to travel to a fa­cil­ity with a fully- funded MRI or pay the gap. “For re­gion­ally- based res­i­dents, it can be a great in­con­ve­nience hav­ing to travel to a fa­cil­ity, such as Sir Charles Gaird­ner Hos­pi­tal, that has a fully- funded MRI. It can also lead to de­lays in ap­point­ments and treat­ments,” he said.

He said pa­tients ad­mit­ted to Mid­land hos­pi­tal did not pay outof- pocket costs when they needed an MRI test dur­ing their stay.

The three types of MRI scan­ners in WA are ei­ther fully Medi­care- li­censed, par­tially Medi­care- li­censed or un­li­censed.

MRI scans as a di­ag­nos­tic imag­ing tool are used as stan­dard prac­tice glob­ally.

A spokes­woman for Perth Ra­di­o­log­i­cal Clinic said the Gov­ern­ment’s MRI li­cence scheme lim­ited the num­ber of MRI scan­ners that at­tract a Medi­care re­bate.

“Com­mu­nity pa­tients from this area do not have ac­cess to a Medi­care re­bate for 80 per cent of ap­proved Medi­care MRI in­ves­ti­ga­tions if ac­cessed lo­cally,” she said.

Pri­vate in- pa­tients at Mid­land hos­pi­tal like­wise do not have ac­cess to a Medi­care re­bate for 80 per cent of ap­proved Medi­care MRI in­ves­ti­ga­tions, she said, and nor will their health fund con­trib­ute to­wards the cost be­cause the in­ves­ti­ga­tions are not cov­ered by Medi­care.

A spokesman for Health Min­is­ter Greg Hunt said the 2017 bud­get com­mit­ted $ 2 bil­lion to di­ag­nos­tic imag­ing over the next decade, part of a “rock solid com­mit­ment to Medi­care”.

Swan Hills MLA Jes­sica Shaw and East Metropoli­tan Re­gion MLC Matthew Swin­bourn at St John of God Mid­land Pub­lic Hos­pi­tal.

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