B.C. is setting new records when it comes to medical wait times in the province, according to a new report from the Fraser Institute.
The latest snapshot of medical wait times from the right-leaning think tank reports British Columbians are waiting, on average, six-and-a-half months from the moment their doctor writes a referral to the time they are getting treatment.
That’s the longest they’ve been since the Fraser Institute began tracking wait times, according to the report.
The study, which surveys doctors across the country, looks at wait times across 12 medical specialties.
It found wait times in B.C. had climbed for the fifth year in a row, said Fraser Institute associate director of health policy studies Bacchus Barua.
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“We’re definitely seeing incredibly long wait times for things like orthopedic surgery,” he said. “Forcing patients to wait a total of 66 weeks on average for orthopedic surgery is really longer than most people would think is a reasonable wait time.”
“We are also seeing incredibly long wait times for neurosurgery. In B.C. the average wait time is about 64.7 weeks.”
Barua said the waits for radiation treatment for cancer patients are the worst in the country at three-and-a-half months.
The numbers add up to make B.C. wait times the seventh worst in Canada, Barua said.
“For example, in B.C., patients can wait about 24 weeks just to get an MRI. We’re putting patients in a really precarious situation in terms of making sure they get the treatment they need in a timely manner.”
He added that B.C.’s wait times surpass the national average by a month.
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But, according to BC Health Minister, while there are improvements to be made with the province’s surgical wait times, the latest Fraser Institute report does not paint an accurate picture.
Adrian Dix says the institute report is based on opinion, not science, adding that the methodology is lacking.
“They surveyed basically 343 physicians in B.C. out of 6,000 specialists so that’s 5.8 per cent.,” said Dix. They don’t have information from the other 98.2 per cent of specialists, which is almost all the surgeons in B.C. who didn’t respond to the survey.”
Dix said the government is focused on improving management systems, trying to figure out how surgeries are done more efficiently and increasing staff to accommodate more surgeries.
~With files from Liza Yuzda