Cancer surgery wait times too long, says Quebec’s auditor general

Quebec's auditor general found that surgery wait times are long in the province. Caiaimage/Sam Edwards

Quebec’s auditor general has released a scathing report into how the province’s handling of surgical services leaves much to be desired.

Guylaine Leclerc found that surgery wait-time targets, set forth by the health ministry, do not take into account the virulence of certain illness which require a rapid intervention.

Read more: Long wait times for surgery? Depends on where you live

In a report tabled on Wednesday at the National Assembly, Leclerc pointed to oncology patients as an example. She found that a substantial number of patients waiting for surgery face delays that exceed the ministry’s target of 28 days.

As part of her report, she audited three hospitals including the Montreal Jewish General, the Chicoutimi Hospital and the Saint-Jérôme Regional Hospital.

In her findings, she said that operating centres in two out of the three hospitals are “obsolete.”

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“Moreover, surgical and sterilization equipment that has reached the end of their operating life is still used in these hospital centres,” she wrote.

Leclerc also criticized the province’s health ministry, saying its current funding structure isn’t adequate and that it “does not have a comprehensive view of the optimal distribution of surgical services.”

“The funding for surgical services do not sufficiently consider the needs of the people and the care they require,” said Leclerc.

The report also found that some of the multiple information systems and databases used in the three hospitals are neither integrated or compatible. In her findings, Leclerc said the ministry has provided institutions with “little support” when it comes to the computerization of surgical trajectory activities.

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As part of her report, Leclerc also issued a series of recommendations to the hospitals she audited and the health ministry.

The recommendations to the health ministry include revising the method for calculating wait times and targets, revising the funding model to meet the needs of patients, and implementing mechanisms for sharing and disseminating best practices in surgery across the province.

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