Yesterday, the Wait Time Alliance (WTA) – a federation of 18 medical specialty societies and the CMA – released its 10th annual report care on wait times in Canada.
While the wait times for the original “Big 5” procedures are undoubtedly better than they were 10 years ago, there is still considerable variation across the country and even within provinces.
And even more importantly, perhaps, is the continued problem with non-measurement. Our “Table 1” of wait time performance is filled with “?” symbols – meaning that the provinces aren’t collecting or reporting the data at all.
This year we have shed light once again on the impact of our aging population and the impact this has on wait times. Until we can start to de-hospitalize our system with more community and home-based solutions for seniors, congested hospitals will remain the norm.
In addition, we have drawn attention to patients for whom the federal government has primary responsibility – indigenous peoples, inmates, and those serving in the military, for example. The federal government spends 4.5 billion dollars annually on direct medical services – but surprisingly, there is precious little public reporting on wait times or any other quality metrics.
Saskatchewan is the star of the show this year. Their concerted efforts to reduce wait times through mechanisms like pooled wait lists are starting to pay off. Congratulations!
Hope you enjoy the report. Your feedback is welcome!