Federal members Christian Porter and Ken Wyatt hit back at Swan Hills MLA Jessica Shaw after MRI swipe

Kim Travers, Jessica Shaw, Lauren Palmer and Catherine King in front of the MRI machine on a recent visit to Midland Hospital. Picture: Supplied
Kim Travers, Jessica Shaw, Lauren Palmer and Catherine King in front of the MRI machine on a recent visit to Midland Hospital. Picture: Supplied

SWAN Hills MLA Jessica Shaw has slammed the Federal Government for restrictions to MRI services, which will mean further cutbacks for people over 50.

The Federal Government announced changes in the 2018-19 budget that MRI knee scans would no longer be available on referral from a GP for people over the age of 50.

Ms Shaw said this announcement meant people needing scans would now have to pay $600 out-of-pocket or wait for a specialist referral.

She said peak medical groups had condemned the decision.

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Ms Shaw has campaigned for more than a year for equal access to MRI services at St John of God (SJOG) Midland Public Hospital, with the northeast metropolitan region currently the only part of Perth without full Medicare access.

She said the new cutbacks were not good enough.

“We need to take up the fight for full access to MRI services at SJOG Midland Public Hospital – we deserve the same access as the rest of Perth. These new cutbacks just add insult to injury,” she said.

“Why does Mr Turnbull think it’s ok for over 50s to wait in pain for services that other age groups can receive for free? Why is it ok that people who live elsewhere in Pert have full access under Medicare, and we don’t?”

The Federal Opposition have announced they will invest $80 million to boost the number of full-licence MRI machines, with at least 10 new full MRI licences for public hospitals.

Ms Shaw said it was unacceptable that the only public hospital in the region did not have a full-MRI licence.

“Our repeated complaints to local Federal MPs Christian Porter and Ken Wyatt and the Federal (Health) Minister Greg Hunt have all fallen on deaf ears,” she said.

“It’s not fair. We deserve better.”

Federal Member for Pearce Christian Porter and Federal Member for Hasluck Ken Wyatt said the comments made by Ms Shaw were at odds with her Federal counterparts who had backed the independent Medicare Taskforce.

Mr Porter said the independent Medicare Taskforce, a committee of the nation’s leading medical experts, recommended new tests for cystic fibrosis, 3D mammograms for women and new MRIs for prostate cancer.

He said the Government had accepted all of these recommendations and equally, the Government accepted the advice from the nation’s leading medical experts on knee imaging after significant concern about inappropriate testing.

“The Member for Swan Hills’ attack on the independent Medicare Taskforce is a new low for Labor,” Mr Porter said.

“The MRI changes were made by the Medicare Taskforce with Federal Labor strongly supporting the process. If the Member for Swan Hills has superior credentials than Australia’s leading medical professionals and clinicians then we would be grateful to know what they are.”

Mr Wyatt said MRIs would still be available for anyone over the age of 50 years of age and in the Federal Budget the Liberal Government had boosted Medicare support for a new MRI scan for prostate cancer checks to hel 26,000 men each year.

New Medicare listings for 3D breast cancer checks, helping around 240,000 women each year, were also improved.

“The Member for Swan Hills has thrown out two years of bi-partisan support for an independent medical process in a cheap political stunt. The Member for Swan Hills and Labor cannot be trusted on health,” Mr Wyatt said.

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