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April 22, 2003

OPSEU, Health Coalition expose web of lies on for-profit MRI, CT plans: Scandal emerging at Kingston private MRI clinic.


TORONTO, KINGSTON: The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) and the Ontario Health Coalition (OHC) say the Conservatives have woven a web of lies to justify a wave of new private Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Computerized Tomography (CT) clinics.


OPSEU and the OHC held joint news conferences today in Toronto and Kingston to hold the government to account for its deceptions.  The for-profit MRI in Kingston was used as an example of the unfolding scandal.


Kingston General Hospital is already reducing MRI hours due to staff shortages.  Any poaching of staff from the hospital will decrease the capacity of the hospital to provide services for urgent and critically ill patients.


The Kingston MRI is owned by 16 of Kingston’s 20 radiologists.  These doctors can refer to the clinic creating a conflict of interest which could allow queue jumping and decrease access for patients with medical needs.


In Kingston OPSEU spokesperson Aimee Axler said the MRI machine at Kingston General Hospital runs for 11 hours a day instead of its usual 17 because of personnel shortages.  Despite this, the government has authorized a for-profit MRI service for Kingston.


“GPs can’t open pharmacies and sell drugs for a profit that they have prescribed to their patients.  It isn’t allowed”, said Ross Sutherland, Kingston Health Coalition spokesperson.  “Why then, is the Health Minister allowing doctors to refer patients to their own profit seeking corporations.  It is a blatant conflict of interest.”


Mr. Sutherland continued, “Using private MRI clinics is the most inefficient way to increase access.  In effect this for-profit approach is denying thousands of people access to MRIs.  If the same public health care dollars were spent effectively we would have thousands more MRI scans for the same money”.