BUSY AT WORK: Central Queensland Radiology MRI radiographer Erna Prinsloo and operations manager Susan Jochheim with the state-of-the-art 3T MRI scanner. Yesterday marked the first day patients could access eligible bulk-billed MRI scans.
BUSY AT WORK: Central Queensland Radiology MRI radiographer Erna Prinsloo and operations manager Susan Jochheim with the state-of-the-art 3T MRI scanner. Yesterday marked the first day patients could access eligible bulk-billed MRI scans. Noor Gillani

Patients pour in as first bulk-billed MRI service starts

YESTERDAY Central Queensland Radiology celebrated the start of its MRI licence with a fully booked schedule.

The licence allows residents access to eligible bulk-billed MRI scans, many of which are used to diagnose cancer, brain injuries and spinal injuries.

Note: this editorial feature is paid-for content.

Managing radiologist Dr Geoff Clark said for a long time there had been support for a licence from local politicians, healthcare providers and residents.

"Previously residents had to drive to Rockhampton or pay $200 or more to have these advanced scans done locally," Dr Clark said.

"This new full MRI licence for Gladstone significantly cuts the cost of eligible MRI services for local patients and greatly assists in the provision of positive health outcomes for the community.

"To have that availability and accessibility now at home in Gladstone with a new machine like that, which gives really nice imaging, is a big bonus for the region.

"We're delighted that it's there for them now and they don't have to feel left out."

Dr Clark said investing in healthcare had been a priority for Central Queensland Radiology since the practice first opened on Philip St in 2013.

In November the practice moved into an expanded facility on Dawson Rd.

"This move into a state-of-the-art new facility in the heart of Gladstone was underpinned by our dedication to continue to provide the highest quality radiology services in the region," Dr Clark said.

"The new practice has more than doubled the number of patients who receive services each day and has employed more local radiologists and healthcare staff.

"There have also been many other benefits including reduced wait times and further links with specialists in the local area.

"And now there will be access to bulk-billed 3T MRI services for Medicare eligible scans."

Dr Clark said people interested in receiving a bulk-billed MRI scan should be aware of the referral criteria.

Those over age 16 with a GP referral, and who meet certain conditions, can access bulk-billed scans of the head and cervical spine.

Knee scans are available to people between age 16-49.

People under age 16 who have a GP referral, and who meet certain conditions, can access scans of the head, spine, knee, hip, elbow and wrist.

A larger variety of scans are available to patients with a specialist referral.

"Medicare has a set of guidelines and certain types of examinations or scans that meet bulk-billing criteria, " Dr Clark said.

"There are some unusual studies, which don't have a Medicare item number assigned to them and those are not eligible.

"But they're the unusual examinations. The vast majority of normal requests from specialists and GPs do have a Medicare item associated with them.

"Generally specialists can order more studies that are able to be bulk-billed whereas GPs have a more limited number."