Scan­ning for sup­port

Hills Gazette (Kalamunda) - - FRONT PAGE - Lynn Gri­er­son

A SE­NATE In­quiry has rec­om­mended bet­ter ac­cess to di­ag­nos­tic imag­ing equip­ment af­ter hear­ing pa­tient ne­glect could have deadly con­se­quences.

The com­mit­tee said it was “par­tic­u­larly con­cerned by re­ports that chil­dren are be­ing sub­jected to the ra­di­a­tion of CT scans due to is­sues as­so­ci­ated with the ac­ces­si­bil­ity of MRI ma­chines”.

Ev­i­dence from Chil­dren’s Health­care Aus­trala­sia in­di­cated for ev­ery 1000 CT scans, a new case of can­cer is cre­ated in a child.

The In­quiry was told WA had one of the low­est num­bers of MRI ma­chines per capita in Aus­tralia.

Op­po­si­tion Fed­eral health spokes­woman Cather­ine King, Swan Hills MLA Jes­sica Shaw and Fed­eral La­bor can­di­dates Lau­ren Palmer (Hasluck) and Kim Travers (Pearce) vis­ited St John of God Pub­lic and Pri­vate Hos­pi­tal in Mid­land on Mon­day to hear about the im­pact on pa­tients strug­gling to ac­cess MRI scans.

Ms Shaw said ac­cess to the scans un­der Medi­care had be­come a “lot­tery of lo­ca­tion” and no new Medi­care MRI li­cences had been granted in WA since the Lib­eral Gov­ern­ment was elected at the 2013 Fed­eral Elec­tion.

“The new Mid­land hos­pi­tal has only one par­tial MRI li­cence, mean­ing out­pa­tients and pri­vate pa­tients have to pay large out-of­pocket fees or travel across Perth to hos­pi­tals where scans are sub­sidised,” she said.

She urged ac­tion on the rec­om­men­da­tions to al­low Mid­land hos­pi­tal to ap­ply for a full Medi­care MRI li­cence.

In a sub­mis­sion to the In­quiry, Perth Ra­di­o­log­i­cal Clinic said at Mid­land hos­pi­tal only pub­lic in­pa­tients could ac­cess an MRI at no cost, whereas pri­vate pa­tients had to pay out-of-pocket be­cause the hos­pi­tal had a par­tial MRI li­cence.

Top of the In­quiry’s 14 rec­om­men­da­tions re­leased this month is the call to “im­me­di­ately im­ple­ment an ap­pli­ca­tion process with clear, ob­jec­tive and trans­par­ent as­sess­ment cri­te­ria to per­mit hos­pi­tals and ra­di­ol­ogy prac­tices to ap­ply for li­cences for MRI ma­chines”.

It also rec­om­mended a re­view of the Medi­care ben­e­fits MRI re­fer­ral path­way and re­bates sys­tem.

MRI scans are used to de­tect and di­ag­nose con­di­tions that af­fect soft tis­sue, such as tu­mours, but at­tract a Medi­care re­bate only if they are per­formed on an el­i­gi­ble MRI ma­chine.

The Gov­ern­ment is obliged to re­spond to the find­ings of the In­quiry within three months, ac­cord­ing to a Fed­eral Op­po­si­tion health spokesman.

Fed­eral Health Min­is­ter Greg Hunt was con­tacted for com­ment.

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