Christopher Simpson has been elected as the incoming chair of the Wait Time Alliance (WTA), a federation of 14 medical and surgical specialty societies whose members are concerned about delayed access to care for their patients.
The WTA issued a new report this month warning that timely access to specialized health care in Canada is being hindered by the high number of hospital patients who should be receiving care elsewhere.
“The cost of caring for alternate-levels-of-care (ALC) patients in hospital is much more expensive than caring for them in a more appropriate setting. We could use the money saved to help finance more appropriate care for our patients, such as family caregivers, home care services, and outpatient multidisciplinary care teams that work to maintain patients’ health,” says Dr Simpson, Professor of Medicine and Chief of Cardiology at Queen’s University, Medical Director of the Cardiac Program at Kingston General Hospital/Hotel Dieu Hospital, and incoming chair of the Wait Time Alliance (WTA).
The WTA report identifies changing demographics and a lack of institutional support for people with chronic conditions as the main factors contributing to ALC problems.
In other findings, the WTA report card highlights slight improvements over the previous year in wait times for five priority areas: cancer, cardiac care, diagnostic imaging, joint replacement and sight restoration. The report also indicates that data collection and public reporting on wait times in the provinces has increased, with some provinces setting their own access targets and publicly reporting on their progress.
However, there remains wide variation in wait times and reporting methods between provinces and access to timely care beyond the five priority areas is often poor. Furthermore, while there’s been progress in the number of patients who move from a decision to treat by a specialist to the start of treatment with six months, the complete wait time can often be considerably longer, especially for the five million Canadian who don’t have a regular family physician.
“Since 2004, there have been some modest wait-time improvements across the country, but we’ve still got a long way to go to improve Canadians’ access to timely care,” says Dr. Simpson.
For more information, please see the WTA Report Card on Wait Times in Canada.
Release and photo source: Queen’s University News Centre