SOUTHERN Highlands patients will have access to more affordable Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) services under the government's Diagnostic Imaging Review Reform Package. People can now benefit from faster diagnosis and early detection of disease as Medicare will cover the cost of more MRI scans than before. At present, there is only one MRI machine in the Southern Highlands - Highlands Xray in Bowral. "Until now, everyone's been paying for MRI scans but the changes mean that now anyone who needs an MRI scan should be able to have one," HighlandsXRAY's Dr Barnabas Bako said. "Patients should be able to have access to the best medical treatment and MRI test regardless of how much money that have. We now have a brand new, state-of-the-art machine and can offer the same service you would get in Sydney CBD." Dr Bako said the MRI machine could detect injuries, particularly muscle or tissue-related injuries, which a CT scanner could not. "Even a very subtle bone injury won't show up on a CT scanner but will on an MRI," he said. "And because it uses magnets instead of radiation for certain things, it is also suitable for children under 16-years-old." From this month, GPs can request MRI Medicare services for children under 16 for conditions like chronic headache and acute knee injury without the child having to see a specialist first. New Medicare items will be used for scans of then head, spine, knee, hip, elbow and wrist. The Diagnostic Imaging Review Reform Package was annouinced about one year ago and was to be released in stages. From November 1, 2013, there would be extended Medicare requesting rights for MRI to GPs for all patients 16 years and over to a small set of clinically appropriate indications.