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

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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
47 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health region

1,538 total cases, 399 are active, ten in hospital

Follow public health recommendations, says Interior Health as COVID-19 cases continue to climb in Revelstoke. (Image courtesy CDC)
Revelstoke positive COVID cases grows to 29

Interior Health announced a cluster in the community on Nov. 26

Figure skaters in the old skating rink in the 1940s. 
(Revelstoke Museum and Archives photo 4034)
Glimpses of Revelstoke’s past for Nov. 26

A look a local history as recorded by the newspaper

Cst. Dane Storey was recognized as a member of Alexa’s Team, a provincial recognition paying tribute to police officers who make an extraordinary contribution to reducing the number of impaired drivers on the roads. (Submitted/Revelstoke RCMP)
Alexa’s Team awarded to Revelstoke RCMP officer

Cst. Dane Storey removed 59 impaired drivers from B.C. roads in 2019

Revelstoke Mountain Resort opens for the season tomorrow, Nov. 27, 2020. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)
Know before you go: Revelstoke Mountain Resort opens tomorrow

Masks are mandatory, lineup opens at 6:30 a.m.

Mary Cox and Jack Plant dance in their pyjamas and slippers at the morning pyjama dance during the Rhythm Reelers’ 25 Annual Rally in the Valley Square Dance Festival in Chilliwack on June 4, 2011. Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 is Square Dancing Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Nov. 29 to Dec. 5

Square Dancing Day, Disability Day and International Ninja Day are all coming up this week

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

British Columbia provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry wears a face mask as she views the Murals of Gratitude exhibition in Vancouver, on Friday, July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COLUMN: Anti-maskers’ message misses the mark

Following COVID-19 restrictions now could determine just how happy our holidays are

The Interior Wildfire Rehabilitation Society is looking for 10-15 acres to house a rehab centre for injured and orphaned wildlife like deer and moose calves. (Black Press file photo)
Okanagan group look for property to house wildlife rehab centre

The Interior Wildlife Rehabilitation Society is looking for 10 acres for injured/orphaned animals

Addie Pafiolis with her son, Theo, who died just five days after his birth due to a heart condition in 2017. For the past four years, Addie and her husband Chris have been supporting local families around the holiday season in Theo's memory. (Contributed)
Okanagan couple supporting local families in son’s memory this Christmas

Theo Pafiolis was five days old when he passed away due to a heart condition; now, his parents are supporting others in his name

Dentice di Frasso, a member of Italian nobility, once owned land in Summerland. (Contributed)
Italian nobility family once lived in Summerland

Dentice di Frasso and his family owned land in the Prairie Valley area

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

Summerland residents have been receiving a telephone scam with the number showing as the telephone number of the local RCMP detachment. (Black Press Media files)
Summerland RCMP telephone number spoofed in scam calls

Number used in scam attempts from tax agency

(Village of Lumby photo)
Mysterious, loud ‘boom’ shakes North Okanagan residents

Village staff, Earthquakes Canada aren’t sure what caused the explosion-like sound

Most Read