Backlog Now Estimated at between 102,000 and 128,000

Doctors Manitoba released a new comprehensive estimate of the backlog of diagnostic tests and surgeries that have accumulated during the pandemic. The new estimate focuses on the work required to clear the backlog, and comes one year after Doctors Manitoba released its first report on the issue. 

Waiting for a test or surgery is never easy,” said Dr. Candace Bradshaw, President of Doctors Manitoba. Physicians are seeing patients facing longer and uncertain waits, often in pain or discomfort. Now that the backlog has peaked, we hope to see more surgeries and tests completed than ever before to get patients the care they need as soon as possible.“

After more than two years of pandemic-related disruptions to surgeries and diagnostic procedures, the backlog is now estimated at between 102,139 and 128,447 cases. This includes:

  • 31,664 and 39,674 surgeries
  • 12,346 and 17,039 diagnostic imaging tests
  • 58,129 and 71,734 other procedures, including allergy testing, endoscopies, mammograms, sleep disorder studies, lung function tests and chronic pain assessments. 

Chronic pain assessments is a new addition to the estimates, with a pandemic backlog estimated between 910 and 1,410 patients who are now waiting an estimated 30 and 40 months.

Our original approach looked back at how many procedures were missed during the pandemic to estimate the backlog,” explained Dr. Kristjan Thompson, Past President of Doctors Manitoba. After two years, some of those missed procedures may no longer be required. Our new approach looks forward, using a more comprehensive analysis to estimate how much work is required to return the system to pre-pandemic performance.” The new estimates incorporate a variety of data, including decreased volumes during the pandemic, wait lists, wait times, and reports from physicians and health system leaders.

Doctors Manitoba also reviewed progress on the three recommendations it presented a year ago to the health system, and added a new recommendation as well:

  1. Create a task force to oversee reducing the backlog (COMPLETE)
  2. Provide monthly updates including the size of the backlog (IN PROGRESS)
  3. Set a target date to clear the backlog (INCOMPLETE)
  4. Ensure the health system not only catches up, but also keeps up with a growing population and advances in medical practice through annual increases in surgery and diagnostic volumes when needed. (NEW)

The creation of the Task Force last December was a major step towards clearing the backlog, but it faced an early set-back when the Omicron wave arrived in Manitoba,” said Dr. Thompson. Now that most surgical and diagnostic facilities are back to pre-pandemic capacity, the Task Force can direct their attention to adding even more capacity, so the health system can catch up and keep up with the need for surgeries and testing in our province.”

Physicians remain willing to help reduce the massive backlog to get patients the surgeries and tests they need,” added Dr. Bradshaw.

See our latest report on the backlog here.
See our backlog dashboard and past estimates and reports here.

Please note that Doctors Manitoba will no longer be providing monthly estimates of the backlog, in anticipation of the health system beginning more comprehensive monthly reporting. 

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