Work on scanner site to start in July

ALEXIA JOHNSTON
Last updated 05:00 28/05/2012

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Work on the site where the MRI scanner will be housed could start as early as July.

The building will be established behind the hospital's clinical services block. An estimated $800,000 of the $3 million raised is expected to go towards construction costs.

South Canterbury District Health Board chief executive Chris Fleming said that, all going to plan, work on the building would start in July and will be operational by early next year.

That will mean the 500 patients who require publicly funded MRI scans each year, and the 950 who get the scans done privately, or paid for by their health insurance, will no longer need to go to Christchurch for the service.

It will also mean publicly funded scans will be increased by about 400, benefiting those who have previously missed out because their needs were immediate, or because of the impact travelling to Christchurch would have on them.

However, people requiring scans under the private system will still need to pay to have an MRI, Mr Fleming said.

He said it was likely people would ask why they should have to pay to access the MRI when it was donated by the community.

"To make the MRI viable we need the initial scanner to be donated, and we also need private patients to contribute towards the operating costs."

The SCDHB will sub-lease up to half of the capacity of the MRI to Christchurch Radiology Group for privately funded MRIs, which include ACC patients, medical insurance patients and private payers.

What happens to the funds raised?

Funds raised to date are being held by the Aoraki Foundation, where interest is being accrued.

The funds will then be passed from the Aoraki Foundation to the Aoraki MRI Charitable Trust, which was created for the sole purpose of owning and leasing an MRI machine to the SCDHB. The trust is community-owned and will have the ultimate say over the long-term placement of the MRI and any funds held.

The trust will buy the MRI and pass $1.2 million ($800,000 for the building, $200,000 for implementation and training costs, and up to $200,000 for anaesthetic equipment) to the DHB.

The DHB will pay an annual operating lease (which will be 10 per cent of the purchase price per annum) to the trust. The future role of the trust will be to collect the lease payments annually and ensure that the DHB is maintaining the machine appropriately.

The lease payments will accumulate within the Aoraki MRI Charitable Trust, ensuring the trust has enough money to replace the machine at the end of its life.

Christchurch Radiology Group is the organisation that provides publicly funded radiology services, including future MRI scans, to the DHB. It carries out the operational activity.

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The DHB will sub-lease up to half of the capacity of the MRI to Christchurch Radiology Group for privately funded MRIs, which include ACC patients, medical insurance patients and private payers.

- The Timaru Herald

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