A new study shows some progress five years after the first ministers of Canada identified priority areas for reducing wait times in the health-care system.
The annual report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information indicates there’s been success in shortening the wait for radiation treatments for cancer patients.
Tracy Johnson, a manager at the institute, says that in the three most populous provinces — Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia — three out of four people receive cancer radiation treatment, hip surgeries and cataract operations within the wait-time benchmarks.
Some of the longest waits are for knee replacements, an area where Johnson says there’s been growing demand because the technology is better and younger patients are getting them along with aging boomers.
Johnson says this report gives a more complete and comparable picture of wait times than previous annual reports, and notes that the provinces have come a long way since 2004, when many couldn’t even provide some of these figures.
Dr. Lorne Bellan, chair of the Wait Time Alliance, says there are other areas in medicine where patients experience significant hold-ups for care, and it’s time to expand the focus beyond the original priority areas.
The alliance includes national medical societies whose members provide direct care to patients.