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Invitation to apply to provide MRI services in Dubbo.

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MEDIA RELEASE Minister for Health and Ageing

Tony Abbott MHR

24 August 2005 ABB099/05

Invitation to apply to provide MRI services in Dubbo

The Commonwealth Government today advertised for applications to provide a Medicare-eligible Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) service in Dubbo.

An MRI unit in Dubbo will significantly improve access to this important diagnostic tool for residents of the central-west region of NSW.

Currently Dubbo and district residents travel almost 150 kilometres to the nearest unit. Once the new unit is operational, patients will no longer need to travel these long distances to access Medicare-eligible MRI.

Patients will be able to claim Medicare rebates for MRI services provided by the successful applicant. Easier and faster access to this important diagnostic tool will also assist local clinicians to develop appropriate treatment plans for their patients.

Applications close on 29 September 2005. In evaluating applications my department will carefully consider factors such as patient charging policies, hours of operation and accessibility to the service to ensure the best provider is selected for the people of Dubbo and the surrounding region.

The government’s intention is that Medicare-eligible MRI services should be available in Dubbo as soon as possible after the announcement of the successful provider.

MRI provides excellent diagnostics for a variety of conditions and soft-tissue injuries such as cancer and strokes. Unlike other imaging types like X-ray and CT scans, MRI does not use ionising radiation and is therefore safer for the patient.

There are currently 91 MRI units across Australia eligible for Medicare benefits, which will increase to more than a hundred by the end of this year. Seven years ago in 1998 there were just 18 Medicare funding MRI services in Australia.

I would like to acknowledge the efforts of the Member for Parkes, John Cobb MP in bringing about this result.

Media contact: Kate Miranda, 0417 425 227