2020 has not been kind to many of us. Canadians endured lockdowns and shutdowns, social isolation and other unpleasant life adjustments due to COVID-19. They also endured longer medical wait times as many experienced cancellations of their scheduled elective surgeries.
According to the new report issued by Fraser Institute on December 10, 2020, it is estimated that “the total number of procedures for which people are waiting in 2020 is 1,224,198, an increase of 15% from the estimated 1,064,286 procedures in 2019.” That means that 3.2% of Canadians were waiting for their elective medically necessary treatment last year. Each province has a different percentage of their population waiting – Quebec has the lowest – 1.97% of the population and Nova Scotia is much higher – at 9.97%. Only the province of Manitoba did better – their number of people waiting for medical procedures decreased.
The total waiting time between referral from a general practitioner and delivery of medically necessary elective treatment by a specialist averaged across all 12 specialities and 10 provinces surveyed, has risen from 20.9 weeks in 2019 to 22.6 in 2020. This is the longest wait time on record. It is 143% longer than in 1993 when it was just 9.3 weeks.
Each province fared differently in medical wait times, as medical care is in the hands of provincial governments. Province of Ontario seems to have the shortest wait times overall, from GP referral to delivery of medically necessary elective treatment it takes 17.4 weeks. The Maritime provinces had more than double wait of ON – PEI at 46.5 weeks, NS at 43.8 weeks and NB at 41.3 weeks.
Each of the 12 specialities had different wait times. Plastic surgery (34.1 weeks), Ophthalmology (34.1 weeks), Neurosurgery (33.2 weeks) and Orthopedics (34.1 weeks) had the longest waits. The largest increases in waits between 2019 and 2020 occurred for neurosurgery (+7.7 weeks), ophthalmological surgery (+5.7 weeks), and plastic surgery (+5.4 weeks). There were also decreases. Wait times for patients receiving treatment in fields like orthopaedics (−5.0 weeks), and medical oncology (−0.1 week).
In our next blog, we will look at wait times in orthopaedics in more detail. If you are unwilling to wait for your surgery and are able to travel outside of your province, we can help connect you with a private facility in the US or Canada. Please note that only a few private options are available in Canada. Give us a call to find out more details. Toll-free 877 344 3544.