The long-fought battle to secure a bulk billing licence for a vital health service in Griffith has finally been won – and locals couldn’t be happier.
For years, Griffith patients needing an MRI scan were forced to endure a painful trip to Wagga or fork out as much as $450 to stay in town – but not anymore.
On Christmas Eve, the Insight Radiology team received the news they had been waiting 18 months to hear – they had been granted a Medicare licence to bulk-bill their MRI scans.
Already, staff have been able to deliver the exciting news to patients that their scans are now free and they can spend their $450 on something else.
Insight Radiology manager Adam Pham was thrilled with the news.
“This has been in the review process for the last 18 months but with all the community support and help from Michael McCormack, I think that helped push us to the top of the list,” Mr Pham said.
“It means people don’t have to travel to Wagga and they don’t have to pay a gap.
“It shouldn’t have to be optional to have the test done or have to put it off because people can’t afford it – now, if they need treatment, it’s free.”
The Area News reported in September last year that some locals had been forced to postpone treatment due to the excessive cost of the MRI scan.
Gwen Beaton, who suffers a crushed vertebra and has had to put off treatment, was a driving force behind the 4000-strong Griffith petition for the licence, presented to the federal government.
Knowing her next scan will be free and she doesn’t have to travel for it, Mrs Beaton is overjoyed.
“I’m so pleased, it’ll really make a huge difference,” Mrs Beaton said.
“All the people I spoke to when I was gathering signatures for the petition, their stories were absolutely horrendous.
“You have no idea of the pain for some people of sitting in a car for two hours to go to Wagga – this is really, really great news.”
While there are some conditions to the bulk-billing, a vast number of patients will be eligible.
Member for Riverina Michael McCormack, who met with federal health minister Peter Dutton to discuss the cause, said he was happy the licence had been granted so quickly.
“It’s taken a concerted effort by the owners of Insight Radiology, getting the community on board and engaging successful advocacy to bring this about,” Mr McCormack said.
“We all see the need for patients to have the very best health care right through regional areas and it didn’t seem right that patients should have to drive that two hours extra, in pain, just to get access to a scan.
“It is decided on a needs-basis and I’m really pleased this has been brought about.”