Physicians look forward to government task force announcement.

Doctors Manitoba updated its estimate of the surgical and diagnostic backlog that has accumulated during the pandemic to over 152,000 cases. The new backlog estimate has been posted to an online dashboard, which the physician organization will continue to update each month until comprehensive reporting is available from the health system.

Last month, the backlog grew by over 100 cases or tests per day,” explained Dr. Kristjan Thompson, President of Doctors Manitoba. Physicians continue to be very concerned, especially as we see cardiac surgeries cancelled due to the strain on our healthcare system from the fourth wave. Making these patients wait and delaying their definitive care suggests that our health system is again at a tipping point.” During the entire pandemic period, there have been 208 fewer cardiac surgeries performed compared to normal pre-pandemic volumes.

The total estimated pandemic backlog is now 152,116 cases, an increase of 6,675 over last month’s estimate. This includes:

  • 56,181 surgeries, up 2,376 over the last month.
  • 42,931 diagnostic imaging procedures, up 3,230 tests over the last month.
  • 53,004 other diagnostic procedures, including allergy tests, endoscopies, mammograms and sleep disorder studies, an increase of 1,069 cases over the last month. The backlog estimate for the last month estimate was revised to be more accurate based on a data correction.

New Procedure Added to the Backlog Estimate

The increase in diagnostic imaging tests this month is largely driven by the addition of another procedure that has faced significant disruptions during the pandemic. Bone density tests have decreased as a result of the pandemic response, but were not previously included in the backlog estimates. Using publicly reported data, Doctors Manitoba estimates there have been 3,708 fewer bone density tests conducted during the pandemic.

In essence, bone density tests measure the strength of your bones, which is vital to diagnose osteoporosis,” said Dr. Thompson. These tests help physicians offer medical advice and potential treatments that can help prevent fractures and other health issues.”

Doctors Manitoba continues to consult physicians about other procedures and/​or tests that have been disrupted during the pandemic. If any are identified with reduced volumes or a growing wait list, they will be added to the backlog estimate accordingly.

Expectations for the Provincial Task Force

Dr. Thompson reinforced the need for the province to act on Doctors Manitoba’s surgical and diagnostic recovery recommendations. This advice includes the formation of a task force to provide oversight and address the backlog, the setting of a target date to clear the backlog, and comprehensive, monthly reporting to monitor progress.

Physicians are looking forward to the government’s announcement about their plan to address the staggering surgical and diagnostic backlog in our province,” said Dr. Thompson. This backlog is such a massive issue that a task force charged with addressing it must be action-oriented, with a clear mandate, requisite authority, and members that possess the right expertise and experience. We will be watching closely for the task force’s membership and mandate, and we are hoping to also hear a commitment to monthly reporting and to set a target date to clear this backlog. Patients need hope, and they need to know that help is on the way.”

The Surgical and Diagnostic Backlog Dashboard can be accessed at Doc​tors​Man​i​to​ba​.ca/​b​a​cklog.

Note about Data Correction: Doctors Manitoba’s estimate of other diagnostic procedures” has been revised to reflect a correction in the data. October’s backlog in this area had previously been estimated at 42,596. After reviewing the data, it was discovered the October backlog for these procedures should have been 51,935. This means the estimated backlog in this area increased in November by 1,069 with last month’s data corrected.

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