A nationwide shortage of a chemical element needed for therapeutic tests is set to cause serious problems for patients across the country. Technetium is used in more than 500 scans a week in Perth. The Health Department is blaming the crisis on a mechanical failure at Australia’s Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation facility in Sydney. Technetium is injected into patients, and helps identify cancer and other health issues such as thyroid problems. Doctors are now trying to find supplies from overseas to boost stocks. At Sir Charles Gardiner Hospital scans are being prioritised, based on their urgency, from next week. It’s unclear how long the shortage will last.