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B.C. government slashes wait times for MRI procedures

WATCH: (May 2) B.C. government says more MRIs being performed

The B.C. government has dramatically reduced how long people wait for an MRI procedure in the province. Numbers provided to Global News show wait times have gone down in all of the health authorities over the 12 months.

For the 50th percentile wait times, the wait has gone down from an average of 48 days to an average of 36 days. In Fraser Health, the waits have gone down from an average of 89 days to 48. At the Northern Health Authority, the wait is down 66 per cent, the most dramatic decrease, from an average of 71 days waiting to 24 days.

READ MORE: British Columbia performs more MRIs than expected, but still doesn’t have wait-time data

For the 90th percentile wait times, the improvements are even more significant. Province-wide, wait times went from an average of 221 days to 161 days. At Northern Health, the drop was from an average of 257 days to 55 days. For Fraser Health, the drop was from 346 days to 224 on average.

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“I hear all the time patients telling me they are getting their MRIs faster and this shows that across B.C.,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said.

“Now we are coming up to the Canadian average.”

The B.C. government has done more MRIs this year than expected.

In the first year of a concerted effort to increase MRIs, 233,369 tests were conducted. That’s compared to 2017-18 when 189,376 exams were performed.

Dix says before he focused in on the MRI issue there was one machine running in the province 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The province says there are now 10.

READ MORE: B.C. to purchase two private MRI clinics to reduce wait times

For the current year, the province has put in an extra $5.25 million in order to complete 248,369 exams annually. Under the strategy launched last year, the government invested $11 million of ongoing funding to substantially increase the number of exams.

British Columbia had fallen well behind the national average for wait times under the previous government. Dix says the recent investment has gotten B.C. back on track.

“We are going to be able to do it because we are adding MRI machines across the province,” Dix said.

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“We are going to have new MRIs in the Fraser Health Authority, Island Health Authority, Interior Health Authority that are going to have a significant impact as well.”

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