Alberta adds $33 million for CTs and MRIs
April 7, 2021
EDMONTON – Alberta is spending an additional $33 million this year on non-emergency CT scans and MRIs as a way of clearing a backlog of diagnostic imaging exams for non-emergency cases.
The money, included in the 2021 budget, will help pay for staffing required to do as many as additional 50,000 CT scans and 45,000 MRIs in the upcoming fiscal year. It is a one-time expenditure on top of the regular spending on diagnostic imaging.
Health Minister Tyler Shandro (pictured) says emergency scans are done within 24 hours, but patients who aren’t in hospital have been waiting too long.
“It’s delaying their treatment and putting their health at risk,” Shandro said. “It’s been that way for years and it’s time that we fix it.”
A year ago, Shandro announced the province’s contract with radiologists would end by March 31, 2021. The current contract with hospital-based radiologists has been extended by six months to allow them to reach a new agreement with Alberta Health Services.
According to the Alberta government, demand for CT scans in Alberta is increasing by 5 percent annually, and for MRIs by 3.5 percent annually.
If a patient is in an emergency department and needs an urgent scan, they are able to get one quickly. If a patient is in hospital, they are able to get a scan within 24 hours.
While wait times for patients in hospital or emergency departments are stable and within time frames recommended by medical experts, wait times for outpatients referred for a CT or MRI scan are longer than recommended.
As of December 2020, 44,341 Albertans were waiting for a CT scan, down from 60,181 Albertans waiting in March 2020.
59,614 Albertans were waiting for an MRI, down from 66,183 Albertans waiting in March 2020.