A new mobile CT service could help reduce wait times at Dubbo Base Hospital and make scans more accessible for people in rural western NSW communities.
On a visit to Walgett on Thursday, health minister Ryan Park unveiled a new Remote Mobile CT Service which will be used to help diagnose causes of pain from muscles or joints, detect diseases or prepare patients for further treatment or surgery.
"There is no fixed CT service between Dubbo and Broken Hill to the west, and the Queensland border to the north, so this unique service will significantly improve access to this important care for our remote communities," minister Park said.
"Having the Remote Mobile CT Service at their doorstep will help many patients avoid hours on the road, some of them up to 10-hour round trips to Dubbo, to have scans. It will also be a huge benefit as we continue improving health outcomes among our Aboriginal communities."
The mobile CT scanner is fully-equipped and installed in custom-built housing on the back of a rigid truck. The housing expands to create an air-conditioned scanning room and reception and the truck is fitted with a bed lifter to transfer patients in beds or wheelchairs.
The service is expected to see around 1,500 non-emergency patients per year as it rotates between Walgett, Bourke and Cobar.
"A radiographer oversees and runs the service, supported by other health service staff in each location along with Aboriginal Health Workers, Western NSW Local Health District Imaging Services General Manager James Harvey said
"Scans are read by radiologists, who will report on images remotely from other areas of the District or from Sydney. Many of these patients would previously have needed to consider going to Dubbo for a CT, at the hospital or a private provider.
"On top of improving access to care for patients, this service also helps GPs to provide care locally and reduces the number of patients transferred to Dubbo from hospitals."
After falling off his push bike Mr Ginty, 40, was taken in an ambulance to Cootamundra Hospital. However, he left the hospital - which has no CT scanner - thinking his injuries were minor and passed away in his home from a brain haemorrhage a short time later.
Mr Ginty's family say they believe access to a CT scanner at Cootamundra could have saved his life.
Asked whether more permanent equipment for small hospitals was on the government's agenda, Mr Park said he could not make any promises.
"Of course what we don't want to see is people misdiagnosed that's something that from a clinical safety and care perspective and human safety is something that I'm always very, very concerned about," he told reporters in Dubbo on Wednesday.
"But I wouldn't be telling the truth if I could say that every single hospital needs to have every single piece of kit and capital there. It's just that's not going to happen and I'm not going to make those sort of promises.
"What I will do though, is have a look at exactly what the type of capital spend is going on in those rural and remote communities and make sure they're keeping up with expectations for good clinical care within the community."
As part of his visit to the Western NSW Local Health District, Mr Park also made stops at the vCare centre in Dubbo, the Gilgandra Multi Purpose Facility, the Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service and the Collarenebri Community Health Centre Aboriginal Health Service.
"Just like at Dubbo and Gilgandra yesterday, I was thrilled to see how dedicated our healthcare workers are here in Collarenebri," he said.
"They are all committed to caring for their communities, and I'm committed to supporting them."
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