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MRI selection panel denied compelling statistics.

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Peter Andren MP - Independent Member for Calare

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28th August 2001

MRI Selection Panel Denied Compelling Statistics

The body tasked with deciding whether a Medicare funded Magnetic Resonance Imaging unit will be located in Orange or Dubbo has been denied access to compelling data about MRI usage across the region, according to Independent Federal Member for Calare Peter Andren.

“The Department of Health has informed me it will not provide the Tender Evaluation Panel with its own internal statistics relevant to the current tender round,” Mr Andren said.

“This is a bizarre decision from the department, and one likely to compromise a selection process already open to allegations of political interference from the Government in the build up to the Federal election.

“The statistics I sought from the department, which it now refuses to provide to the Panel show that in the 1999/2000 financial year 14 times as many Medicare funded MRI scans resulted from referrals from specialists practising in Orange or Bathurst than Dubbo.

“They also show that twice as many scans were performed on patients resident in the southern part of the tender’s identified Area Of Need.

“These figures are relevant to the tender because it requires the Medicare funded unit to be placed in a location most accessible to patients across the whole Area Of Need.

“last week I asked the department if the statistics could be brought to the attention of the Tender Panel.

“But I was somewhat surprised to receive a letter from the department refusing to pass the figures to the Panel, allegedly because they may impinge upon the transparency of the tender process.

“I’ve asked the department to reconsider its decision as I fail to see how such internal departmental data could in any way reflect on the tender process.

“It’s exactly the sort of information anyone would expect the Panel to take into account, and the department’s refusal to pass it on suggests it hasn’t adequately advised the Panel about MRI referrals and usage levels in the region.

“If the department doesn’t reverse its decision I’ll be asking the Minister why,” Mr Andren said.

For More Information: Peter Andren 6277 2341 or 041 961 2891.