Scannerlost to the east coast

Taylar AmoniniNorth West Telegraph

After opening less than four months ago, the Pilbara’s first mobile MRI service is set to close its doors and is likely to be moved to the Eastern States after being unable to secure a Medicare licence.

The machine, which required five to 10 patients a day to make the $700 service viable, will close at the end of this month due to a lack of funding from both the State and Federal Governments, according to owner Global Diagnostics.

A Global Diagnostics spokeswoman said it will close due to a lack of patients being referred to the local service.

“Patients who need a MRI are still being flown to Perth via the State Government-funded PATS, rather than using the local service,” she said.

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“We understand that there are approximately 500-600 patients per year flown from the Pilbara to Perth for MRI, at a significantly higher cost than using the local service.”

WA Country Health Service Pilbara acting regional director Matt Ravenscroft said 521 patients were funded through the Patient Assisted Travel Scheme for an MRI in Perth in the 2016-17 financial year.

“If a patient in the Pilbara requires an MRI, they are referred to the closest Medicare-eligible MRI unit, or offered the choice to pay or use private health insurance, to attend a privately run MRI service,” he said.

“Every trip for PATS is independently assessed against the eligibility criteria and will take into consideration the nearest service.”

Mr Ravenscroft said WACHS Pilbara made one to two referrals a day for a patient to receive an MRI, with many trips coinciding with specialist treatment or complex care not available in the region.

The Global Diagnostics’ spokeswoman said the service may move to the east coast after Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt denied it a Medicare licence last week. He did not respond by time of press.

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