Wednesday, 20 June 2012
Lyne Electorate: Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Health Care
I also rise on a health need for my local electorate on the Mid-North Coast of New South Wales. I again rise to urge the government to include the Manning Valley as a Medicare-eligible region for magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI. The new process for funding of MRI services was introduced in the 2011 federal budget. In January this year, I started, along with community members concerned about this issue, a campaign for a Medicare-eligible MRI at Taree and to service the Manning Valley by writing formally to the federal health minister urging that the Manning be recognised as an area of need.
This week a more detailed and formal submission will be lodged based on the area of need criteria, and I again draw decision makers' attention to the facts of our region. Of the 5,559 patients examined at the Port Macquarie Base Hospital MRI service in the 12 months to June 30, 2011—that is over an hour by car away—more than 20 per cent or about 1,100 had to travel from the Manning Great Lakes region.
Also, the clear advice I have previously received from the Manning Rural Referral Hospital Director of Radiology, Dr Shamsie Sherif ,and Mr Michael Odgers from the Mid-North Coast Diagnostic Imaging is that the best clinical outcome for the community would be having an MRI service located in the Manning Rural Referral Hospital. I understand that any alternative location would require inpatients to be transported with a nurse escort causing serious disruption to the patient and at considerable expense to the local health district. In contrast, the cost to the health district of establishing the MRI service in the public hospital would be minimal.
Mid-North Coast Diagnostic Imaging has previously advised that it would meet the costs of providing the MRI machine, doing the necessary shielding of the treatment area and staffing the service. The case for Medicare-eligible MRI services in the Manning Valley is very strong, and everyone in the Manning does look forward with much anticipation to an announcement from the government soon.
With regard to health care generally, there has been a lot of reform over the last few years. Since the former Prime Minister visited the Port Macquarie Base Hospital in 2008, within days a substantial reform around health and hospital reform was announced. We are now starting to see in the middle of this year implementation of much of that work. I look forward to that as does the medical community. An important co-benefit alongside that reform agenda would be the delivery of services such as an MRI machine in the Manning and that would be a real outcome for the local community.