From March Gladstone residents will have access to a bulk-billed MRI service.
From March Gladstone residents will have access to a bulk-billed MRI service.

'Critical': Bulk-billed MRI service to return to Gladstone

LIFESAVING scans for cancer, stroke and other medical conditions will be bulk-billed for Gladstone residents from March.

Today the Federal Government will announce a new Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) licence for Gladstone Central Queensland Radiology, which recently relocated to a larger centre on the Dawson Highway.

Since 2015 Gladstone has been without an MRI licence, forcing patients to pay hundreds of dollars for the scan or travel to Rockhampton for a Medicare-rebated service.

An MRI is a commonly used medical scan which gives a detailed view of the soft tissues within the body, such as muscles, ligaments, brain tissue, discs and blood vessels.

It is used by doctors to diagnose and monitor a number of different medical conditions including cancer and trauma or sporting injuries.

Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd said the licence would help grow Gladstone's health care services.

"Patients from Gladstone and surrounding towns will no longer have to drive over an hour into Rockhampton to access eligible bulk-billed MRI scans or pay hundreds of dollars out of pocket to have a scan done in Gladstone," Mr O'Dowd said.

"The implementation of a permanent Medicare eligible MRI service within Gladstone will help close the gap in current and growing health care needs and importantly, enable patients affordable access to these critical services."

In September CQ Radiology told The Observer it was the third time they had applied for the licence, after unsuccessful attempts in 2011 and 2013.

Today's announcement will signal the race for the seat of Flynn is shifting into the next gear, despite a Federal Election not being called yet.

Pressure has been mounting on the LNP to give Gladstone an MRI licence, after Opposition Leader Bill Shorten announced Labor would give one licence to Gladstone if it won power at the next election.

Flynn, described as a "must- win" seat, is held by Mr O'Dowd by a mere 1 per cent margin.

Labor candidate for Flynn Zac Beers will contest the seat for the second time, along with One Nation candidate Sharon Lohse.

Minister for Health Greg Hunt said the LNP aimed to keep the cost of healthcare down.

"Our plan for a strong economy means we continue to deliver record funding for essential services such as Medicare, public hospitals and life-saving medicines," Mr Hunt said.

"Not only will our new Medicare support ensure patients get better treatment and save money, it will also cut down the amount of time patients travel to get a scan."