Surgery wait times haven’t budged, says Fraser Institute study

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A new study by the Fraser Institute finds, for the third consecutive year, the median wait time for Canadians seeking medically necessary surgery or other therapeutic treatment remains stagnant.

The annual cross-country survey of physicians, reports a median wait time of 18.3 weeks.

That’s up slightly from last year when it was 18.2, but it’s also nearly double the 1993 wait time of 9.3 weeks.

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The study examines the total wait time faced by patients — from general practitioner referral, to specialist consultation, to actual receipt of treatment.

Among the provinces, Saskatchewan now has the shortest waits, and has made a dramatic turnaround in the last four years as its total time period has dropped from 29 weeks to 13.6

However, looking at the results in this province only raises the level of patient concern, as B.C. has recorded its third consecutive annual increase in wait times.

In B.C., the GP to Specialist wait of 8.4 weeks is right in line with the national average of 8.5, but the subsequent wait, from specialist to treatment in B.C. is at 14 weeks — 9.8 being the national average.

So the total B.C. wait time is four weeks longer than the aforementioned national median time and the highest among all the provinces west of the Maritimes.

The Fraser Institute study echoed the findings of one by the Wait Time Alliance, which B.C. Health Minister Terry Lake says, painted an information picture that was “a little fuzzy,” and is being checked for accuracy.

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