Pressure on to keep MRI service going

Taylar AmoniniNorth West Telegraph

A sliver of hope still exists for the Pilbara’s first mobile magnetic resonance imaging service as politicians rally behind it, hoping to prevent its imminent closure.

As revealed by the Telegraph 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.

Scanner lost to the east coast

After reading the news, State 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.

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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”.

“Our whole health system is not getting the Commonwealth Government support it needs,” he said.

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 requires 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 State 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 was 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 sent a letter in support of Integral Diagnostic’s application for an extraordinary licence on April 21 to Mr Hunt.

This week she said she was disappointed with the decision Global Diagnostics had taken to relocate its MRI machine, but understood it, given their inability to secure a Medicare licence.

“I advocated hard for Global Diagnostics in their bid to be listed on the Medicare Benefits Scheme for its MRI machine” Ms Price said.

“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.”

Mr Michel said he would not stop fighting for health services from a State point of view.

“Flying up and down from Perth is ridiculous — it’s a lot of money we waste,” he said. “We should encourage something that’s here that will benefit the Pilbara people as a whole.”

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