Innisfail and Atherton Hospitals will be equipped with CT scanners before the middle of next year, Deputy Premier and Minister for Health Paul Lucas announced today.

Mr Lucas said the State Government had agreed to purchase the additional two CT scanners from Phillips Healthcare, to be provided to Innisfail and Atherton Hospitals.

“The local community have continued to stress the importance of having access to local CT scanner services in Innisfail and Atherton, and we have listened to these concerns,” Mr Lucas said.

“We commenced advertising for a new tender for radiology services in this region in October as a priority, with this advertisement including the provision of CT scanner services at both Innisfail and Atherton Hospitals.

“Initially the provision of these CT scanners was to be a requirement for any successful tenderer for this District medical imaging contract.

“However, the fact we will now provide CT scanners for Innisfail and Atherton Hospitals as a result of the arrangement with Phillips Healthcare means this radiology contract will now be even more attractive to private tenderers, who will no longer be required to provide the scanners in applying for this contract.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Phillips Healthcare for their assistance in helping us to secure these two new scanners,” he said.

Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt said the two new CT scanners were a major win for the region.

“This is great news for Innisfail Hospital,” Mr Pitt said.

“Residents have raised the need for a scanning machine with me on many occasions.

“Having this equipment in place will be of significant benefit to the community in providing localised enhanced radiology services.

“Babinda residents will also benefit from this service, as like people from Innisfail they currently go to Cairns when they require a scan.

“This can be costly and emotionally draining for the patients, their carers and families.

“The provision of this equipment in Innisfail and Atherton is a vital step in securing enhanced radiology services closer to home for these communities, saving them time and trouble,” he said.

Member for Cairns Desley Boyle said the two new scanners would also work to reduce demand on the current CT scanner at the Cairns Base Hospital.

“This announcement is not only a win for the people of Innisfail and Atherton but also for the broader Cairns and Hinterland District,” Ms Boyle said.

“In 2008, approximately 170 patients were referred from Atherton Hospital to Cairns Base Hospital for a CT scan and 174 patients were referred from Innisfail Hospital.

“While the Cairns Base Hospital does an excellent job of managing District-wide demand for CT scanner services, the provision of a CT scanner at both Innisfail and Atherton will mean more patients can have their scans done in their home town, ultimately creating greater capacity for the Cairns CT scanner also,” she said.

Currently, medical imaging services at Cairns Base Hospital and rural hospitals including Atherton are provided by two different contracted private providers.

The Cairns and Hinterland District is currently advertising tenders for a new, District-wide medical imaging contract to be implemented following the expiration of the current Cairns Base Hospital medical imaging contract in April 2010.

Tenders for the new District-wide medical imaging contract will close in December, and a successful tenderer will be named early next year, in time to commence once the existing contract expires next April.