New report shows B.C. missed goal of reducing emergency wait times in 2014

The 2014 B.C. numbers appear to have been dragged down by the fact that the Vancouver Island Health Authority decided to tackle a backlog of patients, and working through that list of people – who had waited longer than the recommended limit – may have temporarily made wait times look worse than they typically are.

CIHI Director of Health System Analysis and Emerging Issues Kathleen Morris says it may have just been a one year, one time impact, on waits.

Health Minister Terry Lake says the poor B.C. showing didn’t come as a surprise and was recognized last year by the province in its “Priorities Healthcare” document.

He also says steps are being taken to remedy the situation.

“We recognize the challenge of surgery wait times, and so it is a priority,” says Minster Lake. “We have a Provincial Surgical Executive Committee, so we’re trying to understand all of the root causes and the barriers of a more efficient system.”

The cross-country battle to improve wait times for key surgeries began in 2004, with provinces setting targets for hip and knee replacements, hip fractures, cataract surgeries, and radiation therapy.

The benchmark goals were to have 90 per cent of patients wait no longer than 48 hours for hip fracture repair, 182 days for joint replacement procedures, and 112 days for cataract surgery.

According to the report, the average wait time last year for hip replacement surgery in B.C. was more than 49 weeks, knee replacement a year and cataract surgery 35 weeks.

That put the longest wait times in the country in B.C. and Nova Scotia, and Morris says, “We also know that Canadians wait much longer than people in other countries on average to see a specialist.”


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