Surgical Wait Times in Canada: Further Delays in 2023
As with any industry, medical care in Canada is faced with the constant issue of supply and demand. Provinces across Canada have long been facing understaffed hospitals and overbooked clinics, each of which contribute to longer wait times for patients. With multiple institutions collecting wait time information over prolonged periods — some as long as decades — it is becoming apparent that Canadians wait longer on average in the year 2023 than ever before.
The Covid-19 pandemic has put significant strain on health care systems around the world and Canada is no exception. Delays in health systems were present in 2019 but since the outset of the pandemic, patients receiving necessary medical have seen longer and longer wait times for priority procedures, as well as important diagnostic testing.
Navigating Wait Times For Surgery in Canada
According to in-depth wait time data, Canadians are waiting longer for crucial medical procedures like cancer surgeries, as well as MRI scans, cataract surgeries, and even hip and knee replacements. The reason for these delays is a shortage of both personnel and of appropriate facilities.
The year 2022 reported the longest recorded wait times for the last three decades. Wait lists will vary from province to province with treatments ranging anywhere from 20.3 weeks to 64.7 weeks. Wait times have not only increased for treatment and procedures but just getting referrals is taking longer than ever before.
- General Practitioner to Special Consultation: 12.6 weeks in 2022
- Specialist Consultation to Treatment: 14.8 weeks in 2022
This means patients waited for more than half the year to receive a diagnosis and treatment, and certain procedures took significantly longer than that. During this time, patients are left in discomfort or even pain. There was an estimated 600,000 fewer surgeries performed throughout Canada during the first 22 months of the pandemic, a steep decline from previous years.
While patients may expect prolonged wait times for complex surgical procedures, there are also increased wait times for diagnostic tests that were previously done in a matter of days. Patents are being left waiting for upwards of 5.4 weeks for CT scans,10.6 weeks for an MRI and 4.9 weeks for an ultrasound.
Prolonged Medical Wait Times Are Impacting Canadians
A lack of treatment options and delayed procedures are not only a scheduling inconvenience for patients, they can contribute to a significant drop in quality of life. Prolonged periods of pain or discomfort can take a toll on both the body and the mind. Delayed treatments can cause medical issues to worsen, sometimes turning minor issues into much larger ones. Ailments that are often times reversible with quick action can become chronic and plague patients for years.
As the consequences of delayed treatments and prolonged wait times, more and more Canadians are choosing to seek private care in other provinces or even abroad in other countries. With decreased travel costs, Canadians are able to seek out accessible treatments with reduced wait lines in reliable treatment centres. By working alongside a reputable agency, patients are able to organize travel and treatment.