Province announces four-year strategy for MRI services

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Premier Christy Clark and Ministry of Health announced today a new four-year strategy for magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, to help health authorities increase patient access to MRI scans.

“We recognize that access to MRIs has been a challenge and this strategy will make sure we better meet the health care needs of British Columbians now and into the future,” said Health Minister Terry Lake. “By improving how we manage MRI diagnostics, we can provide families with peace of mind that comes with faster diagnosis and treatment.”

Budget allocations for MRIs will increase correspondingly, providing up to an additional $20 million in annual funding for these services by the fourth year.

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As for here in Northern BC, there is no confirmation of action just yet, but Northern Health is working with the ministry to see what they can do for communities that do not have MRI services.

“Northern Health is currently in the request for information stage, looking at how we can support northeast and northwest BC with MRI services,” said Jonathon Dyck of Northern Health, adding that the demand for more MRI services has been increasing ‘dramatically’ across BC.

Right now, the only MRI clinic in this region is in Dawson Creek. Queen Elizabeth II hospital in Grande Prairie also offers MRIs.

This MRI strategy takes a two-pronged approach; the first priority is to increase the number of scans — resulting in up to 65,000 annually by the time the strategy has run it’s course.

Health authorities have also committed to increase the number of MRI exams performed annually by 45 per cent.

Over the past decade, BC has acquired 16 new MRI scanners for hospitals, for a total of 25 – a 178% increase; the number of MRIs performed went from 67,030 (2004-05) to over 143,000 (2014-15) .

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