Community campaign succeeds with announcement of MRI for Sutherland Hospital


A community campaign to have an MRI installed at Sutherland Hospital has succeeded, with state Health Minister Brad Hazzard announcing $7 million has been made available to purchase a machine.

At present, patients have to be taken to St George Hospital or a private facility, sometimes by taxi.

Mr Hazzard visited the hospital on Friday afternoon to deliver the good news to staff, who have also been pushing for the inclusion of the technology in the $81.5 million operating theatres complex redevelopment.

More than 5000 people signed a petition seeking an MRI machine at the hospital in a campaign led by residents Sandra Hudson and Marilyn Urch.

The campaign leaders, in a joint statement, said, "We would like to thank all those that signed the petitions and the many who told us of their personal and traumatic experiences caused by the lack of an MRI at Sutherland Hospital".

"[Cronulla MP] Mark Speakman has worked very hard on achieving a resolution to this problem.

"Throughout the campaign, the Leader has given the issue excellent coverage, Megan Willis helped us to get an on line petition, and Caringbah Rotary and Caringbah Woolworths gave us prime space to gather petitions.

"We look forward to our meeting with hospital general manager next week to see the details of where the MRI will be housed, and if there is a possibility of it going in before the operating theatres in 2022/23.

"It could be installed within months if the money and the space are available, creating jobs and economic growth now rather than later."

Mr Hazzard said the funding would be provided from the government's $3 billion Jobs and Infrastructure Acceleration Fund, which was established to promote economic activity in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

"Each year, around 800 inpatients at Sutherland Hospital need MRI services and have to be transferred to St George Hospital or referred to private providers for scans, " Mr Hazzard said.

"Thanks to the efforts of [MPs] Mark Speakman, Eleni Petinos, Lee Evans and Melanie Gibbons, patients will soon be able to access onsite MRI services, ensuring less travel and faster care."

Mr Speakman said residents in the shire had been calling out for an MRI.

"This is a great outcome for patients, carers and health staff and the next step is to get an MRI licence," he said.

The federal government issues MRI licences, and Sutherland Hospital was unsuccessful in an application last year.

This MRI will be available for patients in the hospital for free but, until a licence is given, outpatients will have to pay a fee and claim a rebate from their health fund.

Workers compensation patients will access the MRI for free.