Wait Times Proving To Be Longer Than Expected
We all knew, or highly suspected, that with the cancellation of non-urgent surgeries back when the pandemic broke, there would be consequences. But how far deep has Canada dug a hole with regards to wait times? According to the Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF), it’s so far deep that it will take innovative thinking and more resources to mend the broken system.
Documents from the Ministry of Health show that between March 18 and July 27th, the number of surgeries and diagnostic procedures performed had dropped significantly when compared to the same time period in 2019. Earlier reports for Ontario estimated 100,000 surgeries had been delayed, however, this was greatly underestimated. Actual reports showed the number was 168,498 fewer surgeries done during that same 19-week period.
If you look at it from a percentage point of view, this is where it faired:
– Pediatric surgeries dropped by over 75%
– Non-Oncology surgeries dropped by over 74%
– Oncology surgeries dropped by 24%
– Number of MRIs dropped by 43%
The numbers have not been evaluated since July 27th. To date, hospitals are still not performing surgeries at 100% capacity in anticipation of a second wave of COVID. That means the backlog will grow even more.
The interesting thing in all of this, if you use Nova Scotia as an example, is that they cancelled 3,200 surgeries out of the 25,000 waiting to free up beds for COVID. Since the pandemic began in NS, there were only 49 people who contracted the virus that were sick enough to need hospital care and only 12 of them needed ICU treatment. So why were there 3,200 surgeries cancelled when the number of actual beds needed was so low?
Per Gregory Hirsch, the senior medical director for surgical services network for NS, about 70% of the 3,200 cancelled surgeries have been caught up. That, however, doesn’t account for all of the postponed appointments with specialists and GP’s. So the 3,200 number in reality is more like a back log of 12,000 as some of those cases have yet to emerge. Even more discerning is that prior to COVID, only 60% of surgeries were being done within the standard amount of time it should take to begin with.
This pandemic has no doubt put the health care system in even more delays. Were they necessary? One could say yes, because they wanted to prepare for the unknowns to this virus. But when you look at the actual numbers of how many people got postponed to free beds up to the number of people that actually needed them, were are still scratching our heads.