Long-awaited action on MRI waits means lasting investment in faster, more efficient care in public system, fewer patients facing unaffordable private MRI fees
For immediate release
Surrey – The BC Health Coalition is welcoming today’s announcement of a comprehensive plan to address B.C.’s MRI wait times as a win for patients and an important complement to the province’s new surgical strategy.
“Today’s announcement of action to deal with B.C.’s long wait times for MRIs will provide welcome relief for many currently waiting on long lists, and equip our public health care system with the ongoing capacity we need to provide timely MRIs in the public health care system,” says Rick Turner, co-chair of the BC Health Coalition.
B.C. lags far behind the national average of MRIs provided in the public health care system.
Turner says the MRI component of BC’s new surgical and diagnostic strategy announced today marks an about turn from the previous approach taken in B.C. over the past decade.
“For too long B.C. has allowed public MRI wait times to grow while allowing a market for private MRI clinics to flourish,” says Edith MacHattie, BCHC co-chair. “These for-profit clinics charge desperate patients high fees ranging from $650-$1,000 per scan, a practice that disrupts the efficiency of the public system and burdens patients financially.”
The BC Health Coalition’s 2017 research found fourteen private MRI clinics operating in the province, all of which appear to be charging patients unlawfully for medically-necessary scans.
MacHattie says that the investments in public MRI capacity announced today will mean fewer patients will be forced to consider paying out of pocket for private scans, and will contribute to reducing waits for surgery.
“An accurate diagnosis is the first step to ensure patients receive the care they need to get well,” says MacHattie. “Increasing the province’s ability to provide timely public MRI scans will play an important role in driving down surgical wait times.”