AMA President, Dr Mukesh Haikerwal, said today that the Government could save as much as $42 million a year in the Health Budget if it allowed GPs to refer patients directly for Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).
The details of the proposal are contained in the AMA's Federal Budget Submission 2007-08, which was released yesterday.
Dr Haikerwal said GPs currently have to refer patients to other specialists for them to get access to an MRI, a process that involves long waiting times, especially in rural areas.
'The AMA believes GPs should be allowed to refer patients straight to an MRI provider when an MRI is recommended as the best practice investigation for the patient.
'There is no reason why a GP would refer MRIs unnecessarily.
'Allowing GPs to refer directly would be a win for patients and a win for the Government,' Dr Haikerwal said.
The AMA asked the Family Medicines Research Centre at the University of Sydney to assess the likely savings to Government from adopting this proposal. They came up with an estimate of $40 million to $42 million annually.