Mobile heart imaging service launches in far western NSW

Media Release from Ryan Park Minister for Health Minister for Regional Health Minister for the Illawarra and South Coast

Wednesday, 8 November 2023 


Communities in far western NSW now have access to cardiac CT scans closer to home, with a pilot program running in the mobile CT imaging van. 

Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD) launched the mobile CT imaging van, the first in the state, earlier this year, with the service operating between Bourke, Cobar and Walgett. 

Regional Health Minister Ryan Park said the WNSWLHD will now pilot a cardiac angiography service from the mobile CT van when it visits the Bourke Multi-Purpose Service.

“Cardiac angiograms are a critical tool in the diagnosis of cardiovascular disease and it’s wonderful to know the far west community can now have access to this service,” Mr Park said.

“We know rates of cardiovascular disease are high in rural and remote areas and it’s important these communities have access to world-class diagnostic care closer to home.”

CT cardiac angiography is a specialised imaging examination commonly performed in larger medical imaging centres around the country. 

It is a non-invasive test that is performed after a contrast dye is injected into your body, similar to other CT scans. The dye highlights any blockages in the arteries, helping to diagnose coronary artery disease.

Member for Barwon, Roy Butler, said there is no fixed CT service between Dubbo and Broken Hill, and the mobile CT van has been tremendously important for the far west region.

“Having this mobile CT van means people no longer have to travel to Dubbo, sometimes up to 10 hours, to get vital imaging scans,” Mr Butler said.

“The addition of the cardiac angiography service at Bourke means people at risk of cardiovascular disease can get the care they need, when they need it, without having to travel long distances. It would be great to see more of this sort of thing in the electorate.”

James Harvey, WNSWLHD Interim Director Clinical Service Division said the mobile CT van has scanned more than 500 patients in the last seven months of operation.

“We’ve already seen the positive impact this service is bringing to our remote communities, so we are now conducting a pilot CT cardiac angiography service when the van is at the Bourke Multi-Purpose Service,” Mr Harvey said.

“The prevalence of cardiovascular disease is known to be high in rural and remote communities, however most screening and diagnostic tests are largely limited to major centres.”

“By running this pilot, we are looking to bring another important service closer to patients’ homes, making it more convenient to access.

“This pilot will also provide insights for the District to develop a sustainable model of operation so we can deliver this service to our remote communities in the future.” 

A doctor’s referral is required for consumers to access the mobile CT van.

The pilot operates in collaboration with visiting cardiologists, Professor Gemma Figtree and Dr Melissa Doohan. It will run until early 2024.

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Beside the Mobile CT Scanner at Bourke Hospital l-r: Western NSW Local Health District Senior Radiographer Ollie Mulcock, Professor Gemma Figtree from Sydney University and Royal North Shore Hospital, North Shore Cardiologist Dr Melissa Doohan, Siemens CT equipment specialist Georgie Smith, and Professor of Radiology at Sydney University and Radiologist at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Dr Stuart Grieve. Photo TWH