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MRI wait list in Saskatchewan sees significant increase

The provincial auditor wants the Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region to track more data, which would help determine the reason behind significant MRI wait times.
Wait lists for MRI scans in Saskatchewan continues to grow despite continued efforts from the province. File / Global News

The number of people waiting for an MRI scan in Saskatchewan continues to climb.

There were 10,018 people on the wait list for an MRI on June 30, 2019, the province’s most up-date statistics.

That is almost double when compared to April 30, 2015 when there were 5,055 people on the list.

“Medical imaging wait times are a complex issue which requires a multifaceted response including increasing capacity, ensuring appropriate referrals and increasing patient choice in accessing services,” Minister of Health Jim Reiter responded to the numbers in a statement on Friday.

Over those four years, there has been a significant increase in the amount of MRI referrals. There were 3,668 requests and 2,940 visits – leaving the province searching for options.

READ MORE: Private MRI scans not reducing wait times: Sask. auditor

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“To help address increasing demand, the Saskatchewan Health Authority has expanded hours of operation for MRI service in Regina and Saskatoon,” Reiter continued in his statement.

“The Saskatchewan Health Authority is currently finalizing plans for a community-based MRI in Saskatoon that will expand access for patients in central and northern Saskatchewan.”

The province started allowing private MRI clinics to enter Saskatchewan in 2016, introducing a two-for-one system.

For every MRI done privately, the clinic is required to provide a free MRI to someone on the public wait-list.

“Private-pay MRI service and the unique two-for-one provision gives patients more options in accessing MRI service,” Reiter continued in his statement.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan passes private MRI law

“This made in Saskatchewan approach has added capacity to the publicly-funded system at no extra cost to the health system or the patient receiving the second scan.”

The Saskatchewan NDP disagree with the system.

“It’s alarming to see the wait times increase. It’s clear that the Sask. Party approach of private MRI’s are not solving the problem of the long wait lists,” said Nicole Saurer, Sask. NDP critic.

“It’s scary for patients who want to be diagnosed and need to be diagnosed in a speedy and efficient way.”

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However, there have been more than 2,300 private MRI’s completed since the program began.

CT scan wait times are comparable to those of an MRI. On April 30, 2015, 3,459 people were waiting for a CT scan. There were 5,325 people waiting for a CT scan on June 30, 2019.