Shorten pledges bulk-billed MRI for Gladstone
OPPOSITION Leader Bill Shorten has pledged to deliver a licence for a Medicare-funded MRI machine to Gladstone if Labor wins power at the next election.
The closest public MRI machine to Gladstone is in Rockhampton.
"The people of Gladstone deserve better," Mr Shorten said yesterday.
The pledge follows a campaign launched by Labor's candidate for Flynn, AWU organiser Zac Beers.
That campaign earned the backing of Queensland's Health Minister last month, and followed the raising of the issue during a speech to State Parliament by Gladstone MP Glenn Butcher in May.
MRI scans are used to detect and diagnose conditions that affect soft tissue - including tumours and cancer - and are critical in the early detection of a range of conditions.
Gladstone has two private machines but they require patients to pay, even while operating below cost.
The city was identified as a location of need in a recent Senate inquiry into MRI access.
Federal Shadow Health Minister Catherine King said MRI scans were particularly important for children because unlike the alternative - CT scans - MRIs did not use ionising radiation.
"Children's Healthcare Australasia says that for every 1000 CT scans, a new case of cancer is created in an Australian child," Ms King said.
The ALP will deliver the licence to Gladstone by expanding the number of licences granted across Australia by 20.
Flynn MP Ken O'Dowd earlier this month said Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt had launched a review into MRI licences, with allocations set to be guided by the advice of medical experts.