A Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) unit will be installed in Manning Hospital.
It will be a significant shift in service delivery for the region, and comes after more than seven years of consistent community and health services lobbying to State and federal politicians for a licence to be allocated to the hospital, and a unit installed on site.
Currently, public patients access Medicare rebateable services at Mayo Private Hospital in Taree, or travel to Port Macquarie and Newcastle.
Federal Member for Lyne, Dr David Gillespie announced the MRI licence for Manning Hospital explaining that once the unit is operational it "will be able to provide the full suite of Medicare eligible services."
Dr Gillespie's announcement of the MRI licence is a critical step forward on the path to Manning Hospital being able to provide public patients with access to MRI services on site.
Hunter New England Local Health District is now "working through all the details", according to a spokesperson, "including discussions with Mid North Coast Imaging, who currently provides MRI services to the Manning region."
"Planning for the Manning Hospital redevelopment includes provision for a MRI machine. Work on the redevelopment is due for completion early next year."
Dr Gillespie said: "I'm delighted that at the federal level we have been able to make this multi-million dollar funding commitment as a government."
Dr Gillespie said MRI services at Manning Hospital would further lift its status as a key regional hospital on the coast.
MRI scans are used by doctors to diagnose and monitor numerous medical conditions such as cancer, stroke, trauma and sporting injuries.
Currently, public patients requiring an MRI scan can visit Mid North Coast Diagnostic Imaging at Mayo Private Hospital in Taree, Port Macquarie Base Hospital or Port X-ray and if necessary travel to Newcastle.
According to the Department of Health, the MRI facility at Mayo Private Hospital offers 'full Medicare eligibility' and it has been provide public and private patients in the region with services since 2013.
It is currently the only MRI unit in the Manning area, with Hunter New England Local Health District managing patient transfers to the facility which is about 4.6km from the hospital.
Mayo Private Hospital is owned by Healthe Care and a spokesperson advised that its unit was owned and operated by Mid North Coast Diagnostic Imaging.
"Mayo Private Hospital welcomes the announcement of a new MRI licence for Manning Hospital, to deliver greater accessibility to services for the Manning-Great Lakes region."
Adding: "It was encouraging that government had committed to a second licence for the region, which was a positive step forward in meeting ongoing, growing demand for public and private MRI services."
Manning Great Lakes Community Health Action Group (MGLHAG) recently raised the need for an MRI machine in Manning Hospital in a letter to Member for Myall Lakes, Stephen Bromhead, and to all the candidates contesting the seat of Myall Lakes at the State election on March 23.
It stated that "it is unacceptable that public patients at the Manning Hospital are missing scheduled MRI's due to transport and scheduling issues with the unit located at the Mayo Hospital."
MGLCHAG president Alan Tickle welcomed the announcement of the MRI licence and unit.
"The action group flagged the need and I'm pleased Dr Gillespie has responded to community calls.
"We look forward tot he incorporation of the MRI as part of the hospital redevelopment."