On 17 August 2017, the Senate referred the availability and accessibility of diagnostic imaging equipment around Australia to the Senate Community Affairs References Committee (committee) for inquiry with the following terms of reference:
a. geographic and other disparities in access to diagnostic imaging equipment;
b. arrangements for Commonwealth subsidy of diagnostic imaging equipment and services;
c. out-of-pocket costs for services that are not subsidised by the Commonwealth and the impact of these on patients; and
d. the respective roles of the Commonwealth, states and other funders in ensuring access to diagnostic imaging services.
This report is presented in six chapters:
• Chapter 1 provides an overview of diagnostic imaging services in Australia and the conduct of the committee's inquiry;
• Chapter 2 considers the distribution and accessibility of diagnostic imaging machines (other than MRI machines) around Australia;
• Chapter 3 examines the use of MRI in Australia, in particular, the existing MRI referral pathways (including the current licensing scheme) and its impact on the health system;
• Chapter 4 addresses the diagnostic imaging workforce, including the shortage of radiologists, radiographers and sonographers;
• Chapter 5 considers the effect of the MBS items for patients and service providers, and the effect of capital sensitivity rules;
• Chapter 6 concludes the committee's considerations and contains the committee's recommendations.