Change to MRI referrals by GPs

FROM 1 November 2018, GPs will no longer be able to make referrals for knee-MRIs for patients 50-and-older. Instead, the GP must refer patients to a specialist, who is then able to make the referral if they think it is necessary.

Going to a specialist for a knee-MRI referral will mean an added cost for patients.

The evidence that currently knee-MRI referrals by GPs for people 50-and-over are often unnecessary is clear. Knee-MRI referrals by GPs have increased overall knee-MRI referrals for those aged 50-and-over by one-third. This confirms general medical concerns that referrals are made unnecessarily for people over 50 (particularly over 65s) with osteoarthritis.

However, the Medicare Benefits Schedule Review Taskforce also considered the option of allowing GPs to continue to make MRI referrals for people 50-and-over in consultation with a specialist in cases where knee surgery is being considered.

CPSA has called on the Government to overturn the blanket ban on knee-MRI referrals by GPs for people 50-and-over and allow referrals by GPs in consultation with a specialist where knee surgery is being considered.