OTTAWA — After several years of progress, it appears some provinces are slipping in their quest to reduce the time it takes to receive a number of benchmark medical treatments.
Part of the slide can be attributed to hospitals being overcrowded by elderly patients with dementia — a problem that can only get worse as the population ages, said a report from the Wait Times Alliance issued Tuesday.
“Canada needs a national dementia strategy that formally integrates the functions of primary care, specialist care and home-care services with a strong focus on keeping seniors in the community, out of the ED (emergency department) and out of hospital,” the alliance recommended in its 2012 report.
The report showed a decline in performance for patients receiving care in the five government-identified priority areas — diagnostic imaging, hip and knee replacement, radiation for cancer, cataract surgery and heart bypass surgery.
Prince Edward Island received an F for knee replacements and a D for hip replacements.
Manitoba earned a D for hip and knee replacements and cataract surgery.
Ontario scored the best with As across the board and no significant changes in wait times.
“Unlike the past several years, the 2012 results show a worsening of performance with regard to patients receiving care within the pan-Canadian benchmarks set by governments,” said the report.
“Although some provinces have shown improvement, the overall results point toward lengthier waits.”
What’s worse is that most of the figures compiled by the alliance only relate to specialist care and don’t account for the time it takes to see a general practitioner or to have medical tests completed after visiting the doctor.