MRIs to be in all public hospitals by 2018

The Finance Ministry had long opposed putting limitations on MRI scanner purchases by hospitals at their own expense.

MRI machine [illustrative] (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
MRI machine [illustrative]
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Mobile magnetic resonance instruments (MRIs) will be able to shuttle between medical institutions around the country to increase the accessibility to their medical scans, the Knesset Labor, Social Welfare and Health Committee decided on Monday.
Contrary to the past, there will be no time limitations requiring the vans to be located in specific places. The new rules are relevant to medical facilities that do not have permanent MRIs on the premises.
The committee also approved an MRI, a computerized tomography (CT) and a positron-emission tomography (PET)-CT scanner for Assuta Hospital’s branch in Ashdod, a public hospital built by the private Assuta that will offer private medical service (SHARAP) for 25% of its medical activities.
But the committee decided to limit the amount of time the regulations on scanners would be in effect. “This is a strange and even unethical request,” said committee chairman MK Eli Alalouf. A simple way should have been found to make it possible for new scanners to be installed. I don’t understand why the Treasury has to be involved. Those who need these important services should receive them quickly and easily,” he said.
When questioned by Alalouf, Rami Avishar of the legal department of the Health Ministry said the ministry does not approve MRIs in private hospitals, because it first wants all public hospitals to purchase one at least. Avishar said that this will occur by 2018, and that there will then be 46 MRIs around the country.
Avishar’s colleague in the ministry said that every year after 2018, an additional hospital MRI scanner will be given a license, and that private hospitals will be able to purchase them.
The Finance Ministry had long opposed putting limitations on MRI scanner purchases by hospitals at their own expense, because it claimed their existence encourages them to sometimes carry out unnecessary procedures and raise the national health budget.
Ariel University chancellor and former finance minister Yigal Cohen Orgad called on the committee not to approve the regulations until the medical center it set up receives a license for an MRI scanner that, he maintained, has already been approved by ministries.
Alalouf and Likud MK Nurit Koren called on the Health and Finance Ministries to deal with the problem immediately and said he would speak to the relevant ministers to push the approval ahead. He added that he would not delay implementation of the regulations that his committee approved because they are urgently needed by the public.