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Study says Ontario surgery backlog due to COVID-19 could take 84 weeks to clear

Click to play video 'Ontario government unveils plan to ramp up elective surgeries' Ontario government unveils plan to ramp up elective surgeries
WATCH (MAY 2020): Health Minister Christine Elliott unveiled a plan to ramp up tens of thousands of elective surgeries that have been postponed for months now due to the pandemic. But for those waiting for surgeries there’s still no date attached to the plan. Travis Dhanraj reports.

TORONTO – A new study suggests it could take more than a year and a half to clear the backlog of surgeries in Ontario hospitals caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Modelling research published today in the Canadian Medical Association Journal says the estimated time to clear surgeries postponed due to the pandemic is 84 weeks, with a target of 717 surgeries per week.

Read more: Ontario lays groundwork for scheduled surgeries to resume as coronavirus spread slows

The provincial government instructed Ontario hospitals to cancel elective surgeries and other activities deemed not urgent in mid-March to prepare for a possible surge of COVID-19 patients.

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That directive was lifted in late May and hospitals gradually resumed performing those surgeries.

Read more: Delayed cardiac surgeries due to coronavirus may have caused 35 deaths in Ontario: minister

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The study says that between March 15 and June 13, Ontario hospitals accrued a backlog of 148,364 procedures.

Its authors say the data will play an important role in health planning moving forward, and the modelling framework can be adapted to other jurisdictions.