Message from the Chair
The Wait Time Alliance remains focused on raising the profile of unacceptable wait times for patients in all specialty areas of health care, a role our physician members have been playing since 2004. While staying on message, the Alliance has shifted its approach from one of watchdog to solutions-focused partner. We will continue to profile physician-led innovations in health care access. At the same time, we are excited to be working with provincial governments in the measurement and collection of wait time data, with a view to improving system access and quality. In part thanks to our report cards shedding light on the issue, all provinces now publish certain wait time data on their websites, and we are working with them to encourage improvements in the coverage and transparency of this information.
Initially the Wait Time Alliance comprised of the Canadian Medical Association and six national specialty societies involved in providing care for the five “priority” areas outlined in the 2004 Health Accord. We now encompass the work of 18 national medical organizations who have collectively established wait time benchmarks for close to 1000 treatments, procedures and diagnoses. The benchmarks are important, but they represent a broader end goal of achieving health care delivery that is centred on the needs of patients. Care delayed is care denied.
Never has it been more important for doctors to take a lead in improving health care for our patients. I’m pleased that the Wait Time Alliance has become the trusted voice in the debate on wait times in Canada. Through our annual report cards we challenge governments to improve their performance in timely delivery of health care. We have seen a rise in requests to comment on these issues, and, besides significant ongoing media coverage, we have been cited in OECD, Health Council of Canada and Senate reports. Our report cards are consistently referred to in Parliament’s Question Period and by provincial Premiers. News of the 2013 report card reached an estimated 37.3 million people worldwide via online and traditional media.
Timely access to health care is an issue that is top of mind for Canadians; despite some isolated successes, we have not seen the progress our patients deserve on this important issue. Physicians and other providers must embrace our civic professionalism, step out of our silos, and work with governments to realize necessary transformational change. The Wait Time Alliance remains committed to advocating for the elimination of unnecessary waits. If other countries can do it, why can’t we?
Chris Simpson, MD, FRCPC, FACC, FHRS
Chair, Wait Time Alliance