Moves to improve scan times
Timaru MRI patients are waiting up to four months for scans, depending on their level of urgency.
The oldest non-urgent entry on the MRI waiting list is four months, the South Canterbury District Health Board has confirmed.
Urgent patients are given the first available appointment, often the same or next day from their time of referral, board chief executive Nigel Trainor said.
Waiting times vary in Timaru, depending on the level of demand for the service.
As of September 14 there were 83 scans waiting to be carried out. That excluded planned MRI appointments such as annual scans. Of the 83, no patients had been waiting longer than four months, he said.
Of those 83, there were 27 incidences where patients waited less than a month, 24 waited one to two months, 21 two to three months and 11 three to four months. Mr Trainor said the initial period of scanning was affected by the installation of new equipment, which was to be expected.
However, ongoing analysis of the MRI's use would help identify ways to improve throughput and maximise the use of resources.
He said paying for an MRI scan privately did not guarantee the patient would get through the system quicker.
An extra technician was not the key to improving wait times.
"This is not the case; effective or timely patient throughput is the key to maximise utilisation, not more technical staff."
Timaru's MRI scanner, which was launched this year, completed 1085 scans in its first six months. That figure was made up of 597 scans carried out through the public sector and 488 private scans.
During that period the Timaru scanner had saved $44,952 in ambulance transfers, which was in line with an anticipated annual saving of $90,000.
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