Hospital officials say 10,000 people waiting for an MRI at the Ottawa Hospital will soon get a phone call regarding whether or not they still need the procedure.

People on the list are also going to be informed their waits can be shortened if they're willing to get their tests done in the middle of the night.

"The needs are vast and there are vast unmet needs for imaging in this area," said Dr. William Miller of the Ottawa Hospital.

While the wait for an MRI at the hospital can be as long as 277 days, those with life-threatening problems are sped through the system to meet the provincial wait time target.

Patients who aren't considered urgent, however, aren't getting their MRIs done within the province's target wait time.

"Those patients wait much longer than the 10 day target because we don't have the capacity," said Miller.

Some patients who remain on the MRI waiting list say they're trying to get appointments at other hospitals in the area. Some are even paying $700 to have the test at private clinics across the river in Gatineau, Que.

Eighty per cent of patients at one Gatineau clinic are from Ontario.

Patients paying for the testing say the cost of a fast diagnosis is worth the money.

The Ottawa area has six MRI machines. Two of those machines are at the Ottawa Hospital and each run 130 hours per week.

The hospital is set to receive a third machine in November to keep up with patient demand.

The provincial government has committed funding to that machine so it can operate 40 hours every week.

With a report from CTV's Joanne Schnurr