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REGINA: CUPE is concerned that Brad Wall is floating the idea of private MRIs.

The cost of private MRI scans fluctuates between $600 and $1,000 across the country. There have been concerns that private options for MRIs mean that only people who can pay can receive medically necessary procedures in a timely manner.

“What we are talking about is a two tier system, where the people who are able to pay get access to the services quicker – regardless of need,” said Tom Graham, President of CUPE Saskatchewan. “While the rich get MRIs, the rest of us still have to wait.”

CUPE has further concerns about what private MRIs might mean for the existing staffing complement.

“Private clinics will make staff shortages we are already facing worse,” stated Gordon Campbell, President of CUPE Health Care Council. “This doesn’t add new staffing capacity – it poaches from the public system.”

“Private MRI clinics are not a proven method for reducing wait times. In the last 12 years, MRI waitlists have gone from 22 months to 3 months, so we are obviously doing something right,” added Graham. “We need to keep investing in public solutions.”

The long awaited development of the Plains Surgical Centre, a public day surgery centre in Regina, would go a long way in adding capacity for MRIs and other medical diagnostic procedures.

The 2008 RFP for this project outlined plans for six operating rooms with the capacity to perform 7,000 outpatient surgical procedures a year, a new diagnostic imaging centre and a pre-admission clinic for all surgical patients in the region.