CIHI Report Confirms Growing Wait Times
A new report released today by the Canadian Institute for Health Information is shedding new light on how wait times for different medical procedures were impacted during the pandemic. The report, Wait Times for Priority Procedures, provides comprehensive information about wait times current to fall 2021 for a variety of diagnostic tests, surgeries and other procedures.
For most life-saving procedures, Manitoba was able to maintain its performance through the pandemic:
- Radiation therapy: Manitoba was the only province see 100% of patients begin treatment within the 4‑week benchmark.
- Hip fracture repairs: 89% of patients received surgery within the 48-hour benchmark, which is 4th best in Canada.
When it comes to testing and other surgical procedures, however, Manitoba’s wait times grew during the pandemic and are now among the longest in Canada:
- Cataract surgery: Just 39% of patients received surgery within the 16-week benchmark, the 2nd lowest in Canada and far below the national average of 66%. The wait time in Manitoba are about twice as long as the national average.
- Hip replacements: 55% of patients received surgery within the 26-week benchmark, 4th lowest in Canada.
- Knee replacements: Just 38% of patients received surgery within the 26-week benchmark, the 2nd lowest in Canada and far below the national average of 59%.
- MRI scans: the median wait time was 66 days, the 2nd longest in Canada and nearly double the national average of 37 days.
- CT scans: the median wait time was 28 days, the longest in Canada along with Nova Scotia, and more than double the national average of 12 days.
Dr. Kristjan Thompson, President of Doctors Manitoba, recognized the positive performance for some procedures but also raised concerns about growing wait times for others. “While we already knew wait times increased during the pandemic, this new national report reveals that Manitoba has among the longest wait times in the country for many surgical and diagnostic procedures.”
In June 2021, Doctors Manitoba made three recommendations to clear the backlog. The first recommendation was accepted with the creation of the Diagnostic and Surgical Recovery Task Force in December by the provincial government. The other two recommendations focus on the province providing monthly reporting to Manitobans and announcing a date by which the backlog will be eliminated, and action on these is still pending.
“As physicians, we know patients need certainty and hope about their wait times,” added Dr. Thompson. “We look forward to the government publishing more data about on a regular basis, and setting a date to clear the massive and growing backlog of surgeries and tests.”
Doctors Manitoba has been tracking the backlog of both surgeries and diagnostic tests that have accumulated during the pandemic, with current estimates suggesting the backlog is approaching 170,000 cases. This new data from CIHI will be used to help update these estimates.