Pay instead of wait -- that’s a new option Manitobans now have when it comes to certain diagnostic testing.

Prota Clinic, a privately operated facility in Winnipeg, has started offering echocardiograms and ultrasound scans for purchase.

The clinic’s cofounder Dimitrios Balageorge told CTV News that patients will have to get a referral from their doctor to be eligible.

“Because it is local, local physicians will be able to see those scans and have discussions with people about the findings and detail in order to provide treatment,” said Balageorge.

Balageorge said potential patients can expect to pay around $500 dollars for an ultrasound scan and $650 dollars for an echocardiogram.

While he acknowledged that anyone needing an urgent scan could likely get testing done quickly through the public system, he touted it as a way to cut some wait times.

“As you start to decrease in the urgency in the need for a scan, that’s when the wait lists start to get long,” he said.

According to the Manitoba Health website, the average wait time for an ultrasound scan in the province is 10 weeks.

Wait times in Winnipeg vary based on the facility, anywhere from 5 to14 weeks.

Meanwhile, the wait time for an elective echocardiogram is 39 weeks, according to the WRHA.

Balageorge rejected the notion that paying for the scans was a form of health care privatization.

“We don’t see this necessarily as a challenge to the system, and a creation of a private system to compete with the Medicare system,” said Balageorge.

“We view ourselves as adjunct to the system.”

Balageoge also told CTV News he made attempts to reach out to the province about the services offered at his clinic.

Meanwhile, requests for comment from the health minister’s office were not returned Friday.

The Manitoba Government and General Employee’s Union (MGEU) said the services were an attack on the public health care system and called on the province to step in.

“Universal public health care in our province is something that needs to be invested in and protected,” an MGEU spokesperson wrote in an email.

“Manitoba families deserve nothing less. No one should ever have to make a decision of putting meals on the table over getting a valuable and necessary health test like an ultrasound done. “