THE fight to get a licence for Bathurst hospital's MRI machine is over.
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When Tuesday night's Federal Budget was handed down, it included a $66 million investment to increase access to regional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines through extending Medicare rebates.
The funding means that Bathurst people, whether patients of the hospital or not, will be able to get a Medicare rebate if they need to have a MRI scan.
The announcement comes after a long battle to get access to the rebate ahead of the MRI becoming operational.
As recently as a week ago Member for Calare Andrew Gee and Member for Bathurst Paul Toole were at odds over the need for a licence, blaming each other's government for the delay.
The state government and Bathurst Health Service have been requesting a licence since funding for the MRI machine was announced in September, 2020.
"Thanks to $66 million dollars in Australian Government support for regional MRI services in this week's Federal Budget, anyone presenting for a scan won't have to open their wallet or purse," Member for Calare Andrew Gee said after the budget was presented.
"Bathurst hospital has always had my absolute support on this, and I'm delighted we've been able to get this done for our region."
On Wednesday, Mr Toole thanked key members of the Federal Government for making it possible for Bathurst people to access a rebate.
"I'm really pleased that after two years of lobbying the Federal Health Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister, I'm pleased that they've been able to deliver free MRI scans for the people of Bathurst," Mr Toole said.
"This is something that I've been fighting for for the past two years, about the importance of this for the community, so that people are not out of pocket for a scan and they will be able to stay here locally without having to travel out of town for a MRI scan."
While Bathurst does have a MRI machine at PRP Diagnostic Imaging, in Bentinck Street, the facility can have long wait times.
Bathurst hospital general manager Cathy Marshall has previously said that, as a result, patients have had to be transported to Orange to undergo the scan.
Having a second machine in Bathurst will increase availability and ensure that they don't have to go through the discomfort of travelling to Orange.
Construction on an extension of the hospital's imaging department, where the MRI machine will be housed, is set to commence in April.
Early works are already under way to enable construction to start.
Assuming there are no setbacks, the machine is set to be operational in November.
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