The Federal Government has announced that NATA - the National Association of Testing Authorities , Australia - has been approved to register diagnostic imaging practices as part of the Government's push to ensure such practices meet quality standards.
Registration is the first stage of a mandatory, multi-stage process.
This process will culminate in all diagnostic imaging facilities that receive Medicare rebates under the Radiology Memorandum of Understanding being required to meet second stage, yet-to-be-determined, accreditation standards. Most diagnostic imaging practices need to register now in order to retain their Medicare rebates after July 1 this year.
NATA has a 61-year history as a technical accreditation provider to laboratories, and is formally recognised by the Federal Government as the national authority for accreditation of laboratories conducting tests and measurements in all technical fields.
NATA Chief Executive Alan Patterson said he was delighted that the Government had once again recognised NATA's abilities as a technical accreditor of scientific facilities.
"The decision means that NATA and its business certification subsidiary NCSI can offer a full range of quality assurance services to these facilities. We are offering the registration process free of charge. We will then offer accreditation to those facilities meeting the Department of Health and Ageing's First Edition Practice Accreditation Standards," Alan Patterson said.
NATA has been accrediting medical imaging facilities for some years under a voluntary program run in conjunction with the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists.
According to Alan Patterson that joint program - recognised as meeting the Government's Stage 1 accreditation requirements - will continue.
A service offering certification to the management system elements of the RANZCR practice standards will also be on offer for practices not yet ready to apply for full RANZCR/NATA accreditation.
"No other accreditation provider offers such a comprehensive range of services for diagnosticl imaging practices. And none has the experience in this area that NATA has.
"It's no coincidence that the Government has decided that any practice accredited through the joint RANZCR/NATA program before 30 June 2009 more than meets the First Edition Practice Accreditation Standards.
"We are committed to ensuring NATA will continue to meet the Government's third-party endorsement requirements. This is of great benefit to those practices that choose to go forward in the accreditation process with NATA," Alan Patterson said.