Report shows many Manitobans waiting longer than recommended for needed surgery

Henrietta Strickland
March 28, 2019

"We know we have an aging population", he said in a teleconference Wednesday from his constituency office in Morden.

A new study from the Canadian Institute for Health Information says most Manitobans who needed cataract surgery or a hip or knee replacement did not get it within the recommended wait time a year ago.

The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) said Wednesday that 30 per cent of Canadians waiting for those surgeries didn't see them happen within the recommended six months.

Tracy Johnson, the director of health system analysis and emerging issues for CIHI, said there are a number of factors that affect a province's wait times for certain procedures. "They've actually shown a steady increase in patients meeting that criteria".

However, the province continues to deliver comparatively shorter wait times for the higher-priority procedures, including hip fracture repairs, MRIs, and CT scans.

However, the data reveals a different story for those in line for hip and knee replacements as well as cataract surgeries.

In Manitoba, patients waited longer for hip and knee replacements and cataract surgery previous year than they did in 2016, and also had to wait longer than the national average for each of those three surgeries in 2018.

The benchmark wait time for hip replacement surgery was determined to be six months.

On the end of the spectrum, Prince Edward Island saw the largest increase in wait times for hip replacement procedures. In all of Canada, the 2018 statistic was 70 per cent. In 2014, 71 per cent of Manitobans needing hip replacements got surgery within the recommended time - compared with 49 per cent in 2018.

The former NDP government had been making steady progress on improving access to hip, knee and cataract surgeries within the recommended wait times, Kinew said. The wait for knee replacement patients went up 41 per cent from 2016 to 2018.

Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew blames provincial government cost-cutting for the longer waits.

The statistic for all of Canada a year ago was 75 per cent.

The institute's report said 37 per cent of Manitobans received knee replacements within the recommended six months, compared with 34 per cent in 2016.

In 2016, 90 per cent of residents received cataract surgery within the recommended wait time of 16 weeks, but that dropped to 77 per cent in 2018.

Johnson said addressing healthcare wait times is a "complex problem" faced by providers all over the world.

Manitoba has been among the top spenders on health-care dollars invested per person, Friesen said.

New data on wait times for priority medical procedures in Canada suggest B.C. patients are waiting longer than other Canadians, but the gap is closing.

"Obviously when you do more, it reduces wait times".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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