Emergency funding has been approved for two new ultrasound machines at St. Martha's Hospital in Antigonish after the wait times recently jumped from 15 days to six months.

The Department of Health and Wellness announced Wednesday that the government will pay for 75 per cent of the cost of the new machines, which should be in use within six weeks.

"This request went through a rigorous scoring process and our emergency funding committee agreed that it must go ahead," Leo Glavine, the Minister of Health and Wellness, said in a statement.

St. Martha's Regional Hospital used to have three working ultrasound machines, but four months ago the chief radiologist for the region decommissioned two of them because they were not giving accurate results.

Local doctors argued the 10-year-old machines should have been replaced two years ago and said the machines in Antigonish were so out of date the service company couldn't get parts anymore.

They said patients could be put at risk if they had to wait six months for an ultrasound study.

The government has spent $530,000 on three emergency requests for capital medical equipment this fiscal year.

South West Health got money for five patient monitors that track the heart rate, blood pressure and other vital signs of patients coming out of surgery while the IWK Health Centre received funding for a plasmapheresis machine, which filters the blood and inserts healthy plasma.

The total budget for medical equipment this year is $18 million and the department said each year, it saves some of the funding for emergency requests.