Care wait times longest in two decades of tracking

Care wait times longest in two decades of tracking

7, the Fraser Institute will release its annual survey of health-care wait times in Canada.

The free-enterprise think tank says the median wait time from referral to treatment is 21.2 weeks in Canada, up from 20 weeks a year ago. "Forcing patients to wait a total of 66 weeks on average for orthopedic surgery is really longer than most people would think is a reasonable wait time". By comparison, Canadians waited 9.3 weeks in 1993 when the Fraser Institute first reported wait times for medically necessary elective treatments.

The problem appears to be focused on the Atlantic provinces.

Among the various specialties, national wait times were longest for orthopaedic surgery (41.7 weeks) and neurosurgery (32.9 weeks) and shortest for medical oncology (3.2 weeks).

Saskatchewan has one of the lowest medical wait times in the country, according to a national think-tank.

"Long wait times are not a trivial matter-they can increase suffering for patients, decrease quality of life, and in the worst cases, lead to disability or death", Barua said.

Overall a year ago, 90 per cent of patients waited 36.4 weeks for treatment, it says.

Jennifer D'Silva, a manager at the health institute, said the number of priority procedures performed is rising and Canada's aging population might be a factor. There are about 5,900 specialists in B.C., so the Fraser Institute didn't hear from 94 per cent of them, he said.

The report also compares wait times in 2017 to previous years.

The numbers add up to make B.C. wait times the seventh worst in Canada, Barua said.

The ministry also has an online tool that allows patients to find out the wait times for specific services at individual hospitals. "It's time for policymakers to consider reforming the outdated policies that continue to contribute to long wait times in Canada".

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