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13 new Medicare-eligible MRI units are planned for all states

02 October, 2007

The Australian Government has announced it will fund 13 new Medicare-eligible Magnetic Resonance Imaging units in all six states.

The Commonwealth Government has announced it will fund 13 new Medicare-eligible Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) units in all six states.

This will bring the total number of Medicare-eligible MRI units to 126 – an increase of 108 since 1998.

MRI uses strong magnetic fields to generate images used to diagnose conditions such as cancer and strokes. It is especially effective on soft tissue and, unlike some other imaging tools such as X-rays and Computed Tomography (CT) scans, MRI does not use ionising radiation.

The new MRI locations have been selected to improve MRI access in under-serviced metropolitan and regional areas.

The locations for the 13 new units are:

  • Western Australia - Armadale and Joondalup
  • New South Wales - Sutherland Shire and Bankstown, Wollongong Hospital and the Newcastle-Hunter region
  • Queensland - Bundaberg and Cairns
  • Victoria - Inner Melbourne and Clayton-Oakleigh
  • South Australia - Morphett Vale and Port Augusta
  • Tasmania - Launceston General Hospital

With the exception of Launceston General Hospital and Wollongong Hospital, the Government has announced the areas where the MRI units will be located. Exact locations will depend upon the outcome of a competitive tender process to select the MRI operators.

The tender process will assess proposed patient charging policies, hours of operation and the capacity of a provider to offer an ongoing and self-reliant practice. Calls for tenders will be advertised in the coming week.

In respect of the units to be located specifically at Wollongong and Launceston General Hospitals, the Government will finalise arrangements with the respective state governments. Public-private partnerships in these cases would be acceptable to the Government.

It is the Government’s expectation that concession cardholders, pensioners and children will not incur out-of-pocket costs for MRI services at these new locations.

Since 1998, the Howard Government has funded 108 new MRI units. It is through good economic management that the Government has been in a position to fund such a large expansion of this important, expensive medical technology.

The new MRI machines will become operational within 12 months, subject to the availability of suitable providers that can meet the above requirements