Physicians have an important role to play in advocating for their patients in all specialty areas and showing leadership in helping to decrease wait times.
In the 2004 Health Accord, Canadian governments committed to reducing wait times in five “priority areas”:
Federal funding alone included a $5.5 billion Wait Times Reduction Fund over the course of the 10-year agreement for the provinces, followed by up to $612 million in 2007 to accelerate the implementation of patient wait-time guarantees. However, these reductions have been minimal and/or temporary—wait times continue to be an issue. There hasn’t been enough focus on all areas of care, and on all aspects of a patient’s journey through the system, and funding has not bought sustained system change.
That is why the Wait Time Alliance has created benchmarks for an additional 12 specialty areas, including:
Canadians are worried about timely access to health care. They understand that long wait times have a negative impact on their health and well-being. Long wait times also affect our collective well-being. Long wait times for just four procedures (joint replacement surgery, sight restoration, coronary artery bypass graft surgery and MRI scans) cost the Canadian economy an estimated $14.8 billion in 2007.
Long wait times are not an inevitable side effect of a universal health care system. Other governments have developed successful strategies to ensure timely access to care–Canadians wait longer for care than citizens of most other industrialized countries with publicly financed systems. More work is needed to ensure that Canadians will receive the timely care they deserve.
My husband is one of over 74,000 needing surgery in our province. He isn’t special. He is to me.
– Cindy, British Columbia