CATHERINE KING MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND MEDICARE
MEMBER FOR BALLARAT
JESSICA SHAW MLA
MEMBER FOR SWAN HILLS
LABOR CANDIDATE FOR HASLUCK
LABOR CANDIDATE FOR PEARCE
TURNBULL’S INACTION ON SCANS HURTS PERTH’S NORTH EAST
People in Perth’s North East are struggling to access vital scans, with Malcolm Turnbull’s inaction on Medicare MRI licences forcing patients to pay large out-of-pocket fees or travel long distances.
Shadow Health Minister Catherine King, WA Member for Swan Hills Jessica Shaw, Labor Candidate for Hasluck Lauren Palmer and Labor Candidate for Pearce Kim Travers visited Midland Hospital today to hear about the impact of Turnbull’s neglect.
MRI scans are used to detect and diagnose conditions that affect soft tissue, such as tumours, but only attract a Medicare rebate if they are performed on an eligible MRI machine.
Under Turnbull, access to Medicare MRI scans has become a lottery of location.
The Liberals have granted no new Medicare MRI licences in WA since they were elected in 2013 – even though Ken Wyatt and Christian Porter sit on Turnbull’s front bench.
In contrast, Turnbull’s own Health Department told a recent Senate Inquiry that the last Labor Government had granted 225 Medicare MRI licences in 2012 alone. This included more than a dozen full and partial licences in WA – meaning more communities could access early detection and diagnosis of disease.
Labor initiated the Senate Inquiry to highlight that other communities have had no opportunity to apply for a licence under the Liberals.
As a result, the new Midland Hospital has just one partial MRI licence, meaning that outpatients and private patients have to pay large out-of-pocket fees – or travel across Perth to hospitals where scans are subsidised.
At a hearing in Perth last year, the Inquiry heard that the Liberals’ neglect could have deadly consequences, with the Committee saying it was “particularly concerned by reports that children are being subjected to the radiation of CT scans due to issues associated with the accessibility of MRI machines”.
This followed evidence from Children’s Healthcare Australasia that for every 1,000 CT scans a new case of cancer is created in an Australian child.
The Inquiry’s top recommendation, released this month, is for the Government to “immediately implement an application process with clear, objective and transparent assessment criteria to permit hospitals and radiology practices to apply for licences for Magnetic Resonance Imaging machines”.
With even WA Liberal Senator Slade Brockman supporting this recommendation, Turnbull, Wyatt and Porter cannot continue to ignore the tragic impacts of their inaction on Medicare MRI licences.
They must act urgently on the Inquiry’s recommendations and give Midland Hospital the opportunity it deserves to apply for a full Medicare MRI licence.
MONDAY, 19 MARCH 2017