NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Wait Times for Surgery Vault to Record High in Canada

December 28, 2011

Canadians seeking surgical or other therapeutic treatment faced a median wait time of 19.0 weeks in 2011, the longest wait time since 1993 when the Fraser Institute first began measuring wait times.  The median surgical wait time in 2011 jumped to 19.0 weeks from 18.2 weeks in 2010, exceeding the previous all-time high of 18.3 weeks recorded in 2007, according to the 21st annual edition of Waiting Your Turn: Wait Times for Health Care in Canada, released by the Fraser Institute, a Canadian free market public policy think tank.

  • The Waiting Your Turn report uses the survey responses of Canadian physicians to measure median waiting times in an effort to document the degree to which queues for visits to specialists and for diagnostic and surgical procedures are used to control health care expenditures.
  • The report measures the wait times between referral by a general practitioner and consultation with a specialist, the times between seeing the specialist and receiving elective treatment, and the total wait times from general practitioner referral to elective treatment.
  • According to the report, wait times between 2010 and 2011 increased in both the delay between referral by a general practitioner to consultation with a specialist (rising to 9.5 weeks from 8.9 weeks in 2010), and the delay between a consultation with a specialist and receiving treatment (rising to 9.5 weeks from 9.3 weeks in 2010).
  • The report calculates that, in 2011, the average wait for an appointment with a specialist after being referred by a general practitioner was 156 percent longer than in 1993, and 70 percent longer to receive treatment after seeing a specialist.

Source: Bacchus Barua, Mark Rovere and Brett J. Skinner, "Wait Times for Surgery Vault to Record High of 19 Weeks in Canada," Fraser Institute, December 12, 2011.

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