|Forum Home > Shortage of Doctors in Ontario > Work still needed to reduce wait times, WTA says|
A consortium of 13 medical groups called the Wait Time Alliance or WTA has released another largely negative report on the progress provinces are making in reducing wait times for priority procedures.
"The WTA report card shows that many Canadian patients still face long waits for needed medical care, six years after governments promised to get the job done," Dr. Lorne Bellan, president-elect of the Canadian Ophthalmological Society and WTA co-chair said in a news release.
In 2004, federal-provincial-territorial First Ministers chose five priorities for reducing wait times: joint replacements (hip and knee), sight restoration (cataracts), heart (coronary artery bypass surgery), diagnostic imaging (MRI and CT scans), and cancer care (radiation therapy).
This effort was supported by a $4.5 billion federal fund that ran out at the end of the 2009-10 fiscal year.
The WTA has released five annual report cards that have charted governments’ performance in reducing wait times. The latest report gives an A-grade to radiation therapy, cataract and bypass surgery wait times with 80 to 100 per cent of the population being treated within the governments’ benchmarks. Hip replacements get a B, and knee replacements a C – all these grades are unchanged from last year’s report.
There is no score for MRI/CT scans because governments have yet to come up with a benchmark for how long patients should wait.
The WTA has long complained that these benchmarks do not line up with the medical profession’s own view of what constitutes an acceptable wait time.
This is a particular issue with bypass surgeries with the government benchmark set at 26 weeks, and the WTA’s at just six weeks.
The WTA has also tried to shift the spotlight to other services and procedures which it says should be considered priorities. It has identified benchmarks for 32 of them, but wait-time information on these items is a virtual "black hole" with data either scarce or non-existent.
It does credit Ontario and Saskatchewan for reporting wait-time information on the greatest number of treatments on the WTA’s expanded priority list. It also criticizes Newfoundland and Labrador and Alberta for posting wait-time information on the five original priorities that is more than six months old.
The new WTA report included information for the first time on waits for pediatric surgery. Urology, orthopedic surgery and gynecology get an A-grade, but there are D’s for dentistry and ophthalmology