Patients in Saskatchewan have some of the shortest wait times in the country to receive elective surgery, according to a report from the Fraser Institute.
However, the average wait time in the province has increased from the previous year.
According to the report, Waiting Your Turn, the average wait time for patients in the province to receive medically necessary treatment was 19.8 weeks in 2017, the second lowest in Canada.
Ontario had the shortest average wait time of 15.4 weeks.
The report found that patients wait, on average, 9.7 weeks to see a specialist once they have been referred by a general practitioner and 10.1 weeks from seeing the specialist to treatment.
The short wait times from seeing a specialist to receiving treatment are for medical oncology (1.1), urgent cardiovascular surgery (1.2), and elective cardiovascular surgery (2.2).
The longest waits were for otolaryngology (22.9), orthopedic surgery (20.8) and plastic surgery (20.6).
When compared to the previous year, wait times have increased.
The average wait time in 2016 was 16.6 weeks: 8.7 weeks from referral by a general practitioner to the appointment with the specialist, and 7.9 weeks from seeing the specialist to treatment.
Those waiting for a diagnostic test saw the average wait time hold steady or decrease in 2017.
CT scan times remained at 3.0 weeks, tied with Ontario for the shortest wait times in the country, and the wait time for ultrasounds decreased from 4.0 weeks in 2016 to 2.0 weeks.
There was no change in wait times for a MRI at 12.0 weeks, which was fifth in the country.
Saskatchewan Health Ministry officials said the capacity for performing MRI services in the province has more than doubled in the last decade to meet demand, and CT capacity is up 48 per cent.
Health Minister Jim Reiter said there is more work to be done to reduce wait times.
“Our government is proud of the successes the health system has achieved in improving access to surgery,” Reiter said in a statement.
“Further work is ongoing to reduce wait times for medical imaging and for appointments with a specialist.”
Officials said they have worked with doctors and patients to address wait times and develop innovative approaches to reduce the time spent waiting to see a specialist once the referral has been made.
The Fraser Institute collected data between Jan. 4 and April 28 for the report.
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