The pressure’s on to keep MRI service
Some hope still exists for the Pilbara’s first mobile magnetic resonance imaging service as politicians rally behind it, hoping to prevent its closure. As revealed by the Pilbara
News last week, the Global Diagnostics mobile MRI service is set to close at the end of this month after it failed to attract enough clients, with the company that owns it, Integral Diagnostics, saying its inability to gain a Medicare licence was to blame.
WA Government officials including Member for North West Central Vince Catania, Minister for Health Roger Cook and Member for Pilbara Kevin Michel took to Parliament to express their disappointment.
Mr Cook said health services were constantly trying to improve services in the regions but couldn’t do so if there weren’t “proper pricing models to reflect the costs”.
Integral Diagnostics chief executive Ian Kadish said there was still hope for the service to stay in the Pilbara if it got support from the State and Federal Governments.
The machine, which required five-10 patients a day to make the $700 service viable, has been struggling since its opening as patients have been flown to Perth via the WA Government-funded Patient Assisted Travel Scheme.
WA Country Health Service Pilbara acting regional director Matt Ravenscroft said 521 patients were funded through the PATS for an MRI in Perth in the 2016-17 financial year.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt did not specify the reasons the service had been denied an extraordinary Medicare licence, instead saying in this year’s Budget the Government had announced an additional $2 billion investment in diagnostic imaging over the next decade.
Federal Member for Durack Melissa Price said she was disappointed with the decision Global Diagnostics had taken to relocate its MRI machine, but understood it, given its inability to secure a Medicare licence.
“I am disappointed with the decision the Government has made, but I will continue to support Global or any other medical service providers that want to bring an MRI service to the Pilbara, but encourage them to secure their MBS listing before making an investment” Ms Price said.
Mr Michel said he would not stop fighting for health services.
“Flying up and down from Perth is ridiculous, it’s a lot of money wasted,” he said. “We may as well encourage something that’s here and that will benefit the Pilbara people as a whole.”
Victoria Bailey, MRI service manager, sets up a patient for a knee scan.