Province buys private MRIs

Health-care advocates are praising the provincial government's purchase of two private MRI clinics.

Fraser Health Authority purchased Surrey MRI and Fraser Valley MRI in Abbotsford.

Staff will become health authority employees, and FHA plans on opening the clinics to the public within a month.

“For too long, B.C. has allowed public MRI wait times to grow while allowing a market for private MRI clinics to flourish,” said Edith MacHattie of the B.C. Health Coalition. “These two clinics will further reduce wait times for MRIs in Fraser Health Authority by providing an extra 2,000 scans this year, with increased capacity for next year.” 

Health Minister Adrian Dix explained that purchasing the clinics is the best use of resources when looking at the cost of building new facilities and purchasing more MRI machines.

“An accurate diagnosis is the first step to ensure patients receive the care they need to get well,” said MacHattie. “Increasing the province’s ability to provide timely public MRI scans will play an important role in driving down surgical wait times.”

A centralized waitlist for MRIs is part of the province’s plan to address people waiting too long for scans.

The purchase represents "a direct departure from years of inadequate action on MRI wait times and a 'don’t ask, don’t tell' approach to unlawful private fees," the coalition said.

Private, for-profit clinics were recently granted a six-month extension before additional enforcement on extra-billing. 

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