Able Medico managing partner Mark Grahame, Richmond MP Justine Elliot with Medical Staff Council chariman Dr Mike Lindley-Jones.
Able Medico managing partner Mark Grahame, Richmond MP Justine Elliot with Medical Staff Council chariman Dr Mike Lindley-Jones. Contributed

Call for ministerial powers in fight for Tweed MRI

THE company behind the push for Tweed Hospital to have a fully rebatable Medicare MRI scanner has challenged the federal Health Department's rejection of the licence for the device.

Last week the federal Health Minister's office said the Tweed Hospital's MRI application had been knocked back because it came outside of a licence application round.

A spokesman for the Australian Government Department of Health said successive governments had to ensure the provision of public funding for MRIs was "both fair and financially responsible”.

"At this stage, the government has not advised of a further round of applications for Medicare eligibility of MRI units,” he said.

But Able Medico manager Mark Grahame said the government could use its discretionary ministerial powers outside of the tender process as it had done for Epworth and Mount Gambier hospitals.

"Neither (are) in areas demonstrating the same level of socio-economic or health statistic need as the Tweed catchment,” Mr Grahame said.

"Patients needing access to affordable MRI need to travel some distance to alternate facilities or patients undergo a CT exposing themselves unnecessarily to radiation doses or patients are putting themselves under financial distress by paying out of pocket for MRI.”

"The socio-economic and health demographic data present a compelling case for action now.”

The federal Health Minister's office did not respond and it's expected federal MP Justine Elliot's office will now lobby her office for the MRI.



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