Minister of Health Adrian Dix (centre). (Photo: Black Press file photo)

Improving access to MRIs is ‘an important step,’ says Hospital Employees’ Union

Union says the move puts B.C.’s health care system ‘firmly on the road to renewal’

The B.C. government is vowing to reduce wait times for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exams, a move that’s being praised by the Hospital Employees’ Union (HEU).

The NDP government announced Tuesday that 37,000 more magnetic resonance imaging, or MRIs, will be done throughout the province by the end of March 2019, compared to the previous year.

Wait times for MRI exams in B.C. are long, with 50 per cent of patients waiting more than 41 days, and 10 per cent waiting more than 199 days.

At the end of 2016-17, B.C.’s per capita rate for MRI exams was 37 per 1,000 population, far below the national average of 55.5.

“This is a bold step to dramatically increase the number of MRI exams being done in B.C., and this coming year alone, the increase will be close to 20 per cent,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix in a release, who made the announcement Tuesday morning at Surrey’s Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre.

“We are delivering on our promise to restore services and find capacity in our public health-care system so that British Columbians don’t have to wait months and months for prescribed exams,” he added. “We know that by rebuilding and expanding capacity in the public system, we will improve access to care and patient outcomes.”

The provincial government says under the B.C. Surgical and Diagnostic Strategy, 225,000 MRI exams will be completed in 2018-19, up from 188,000 in 2017-18.

READ MORE: B.C. announces $175 million to cut hip, knee surgery wait times

To meet these targets, the province says it’s making $11 million available to the public health care system.

In a press release Tuesday, the HEU called the move an “important step” in putting B.C. “firmly on the road to renewal when it comes to building the capacity of our public health care system.”

“Timely access to necessary health care services is the right of all British Columbians,” said Jennifer Whiteside, HEU secretary-business manager.

“Citizens should not be forced to choose between waiting for months for a needed medical service, or paying privately,” she added. “The previous government’s lack of investment in the public provision of services like MRIs needlessly undermined patient care and put B.C. well behind the rest of Canada.”

The NDP says it will achieve its MRI targets by operating existing machines longer to accommodate additional exams; establishing centralized intake at a regional level that will reduce duplicate referrals and appointments, and prevent wasted operating time, while also offering patients the earliest appointment available in a region, as appropriate; installing already-planned MRI machines; and adding additional capacity to the public system.

MRI is one of the tools used to diagnose a number of medical conditions, including abnormalities of the brain, as well as tumours, cysts and soft-tissue injuries in other parts of the body. An early diagnosis can lead to early treatment, which can positively affect people’s quality of life and return them to being contributing members of their communities and the economy.

On March 21, Premier John Horgan announced the province’s surgical strategy to complete approximately 9,400 more surgeries within the public health-care system by the end of March 2019. The strategy aims to improve access to surgery through a “more-efficient surgical system, and help the province catch up and keep up with demand.”



amy.reid@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Amy on Twitter

Just Posted

Local astronomer to share knowledge about planetary nebulae

Local astronomer explains our sun will one day eject its outer layers to form a planetary nebula

School district considers new position, drug concerns raised

Assistant superintendent confirms spike in use of a Xanax-like drug in schools earlier this year

Nanaimo’s elementary schools graded by Fraser Institute

Annual Report Card on British Columbia’s Elementary Schools released Saturday, April 21

UPDATED: Nanaimo man dies after highway crash in Nanoose Bay Friday afternoon

Accident happened just before 4 p.m. near Hillview Road.

School district changes mind, won’t cut community school coordinators

Budget initiatives proposed for next school year

MULTIMEDIA: Goats were special guests at Nanaimo Earth Day celebration

Community event was held Saturday, April 21, at John Barsby Secondary School

B.C. student makes short-list for autism advocacy award

Brody Butts honoured for his role as a mentor and self-advocate

Nanaimo region receives $700,000 in federal support for summer jobs

Funding for Nanaimo-Ladysmith up $74,000 from last year

Students celebrate new indigenous garden

Garden teaches students about traditional uses of local plants

RCMP investigate sexual assault in Courtenay

Comox Valley RCMP officers are investigating a reported sexual assault April 11

RCMP discover beaver the culprit in break-and-enter attempt

Nanaimo RCMP responded to a 911 call on Sun Valley Drive on Wednesday night

Austin Powers ‘Mini-Me’, Verne Troyer, dies at 49

Facebook page confirmed his death Saturday afternoon

B.C. parents grieving teen’s overdose death say it started with opioid prescription

Elliot Eurchuk, 16, died at his Oak Bay home Friday, after taking street drugs

16 of 20 fastest improving B.C. schools are public: Fraser Institute

Independent elementary schools remain at top of the chart in think tank’s annual report card

Most Read