Health and Community Services
April 5, 2007
Minister Provides Quarterly Update on Wait Times for Health Care Procedures
Newfoundland and Labrador continues to be at or near the national benchmarks established for patient wait times, said the Honourable Ross Wiseman, Minister of Health and Community Services, in providing a quarterly update today of wait times in the five established priority areas of cancer treatment, joint restoration, vision restoration, cardiac and diagnostics. Results represent second quarter data findings for the period of July 1 � September 30, 2006.
"We have been providing updates to the public on a quarterly basis on wait times for health care procedures since December 2005," said Minister Wiseman. "In keeping with our government�s commitment to openness and transparency, we feel it is important to report wait times on a consistent basis for these health care procedures that are commonly accessed by residents of Newfoundland and Labrador."
Wait time starts with decision to treat, which is when the patient and the appropriate physician agree to a particular service, and the patient is ready to receive the service. Wait time ends when the patient receives the service, or the initial service in a series. The wait is then measured in calendar days between start and end date.
For the Provincial Cancer Care Program, 89 per cent of new patients commenced curative radiation therapy within the benchmark of 30 days. This slight decrease (down slightly from 92 per cent in the first quarter) is associated with equipment downtime of the aging linear accelerators. During this time period, approximately 24 patients travelled out of the province for treatment. Only patients receiving treatment in the province are included in the provincial wait time benchmarks. Government committed $3.3 million in Budget 2006 to begin construction of two new bunkers to house two new radiation machines at the Dr. H. Bliss Murphy Centre in St. John�s. An additional investment will follow in this year�s budget to purchase the equipment, which is expected to be operational in late 2007. In the previous two quarters, 100 per cent of all new breast, colorectal, lung, prostate and other cancers began treatment within 30 days of being ready to treat.
"Once the two new radiation machines are operational, we anticipate improved access for radiation therapy for patients," said Minister Wiseman.
Wait times have improved for Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG) procedures this quarter. The national benchmark target for CABG is 182 days. Eastern Health reported a 97.8 per cent completion rate within the 182 day benchmark. This represents a slight increase from 95.2 per cent completion rate reported in the last quarter. As cardiac surgery is a provincial program, CABG procedures are completed within Eastern only.
Wait times for cataract procedures also improved slightly again this quarter, to 88 per cent in Eastern (up slightly from 85 per cent in the first quarter). Central exceeded the benchmark with a 100 per cent completion rate within the benchmark. Data was not available in Western but will be included in the fourth quarter update. No cases were performed in Labrador-Grenfell during this period due to the fact that no permanent or visiting ophthalmologists were available to perform procedures.
Central and Western regions achieved the national benchmark of 182 days (26 weeks) again this quarter for hip replacement procedures. Eastern region achieved an 83.8 per cent completion rate of all cases in 182 days. Data is suppressed in Labrador-Grenfell because there were less than 10 cases, and will not be reported this quarter.
The national benchmark for knee replacement is also 182 days (26 weeks). During this quarter, the provincial completion rate at 182 days ranged from: 100 per cent in Central, to 87.5 per cent in Western, and 82.5 per cent in Eastern. Data is suppressed in Labrador-Grenfell because there were less than 10 cases, and will not be reported this quarter.
In Eastern Health, the completion rates for joint replacement (hip and knee) are slightly lower this quarter. This marginal decrease in the percentage of procedures completed within the 182 day target indicates that access has improved for patients who are waiting the longest.
There are four regional health authorities within the province, representing Eastern, Central, Western and Labrador-Grenfell regions. Eastern Health includes the Avalon Peninsula, west to Port Blandford (inclusive) and includes the Burin and Bonavista Peninsulas. Central Health extends from Charlottetown (inclusive) in the east, Fogo Island in the northeast, Harbour Breton/Connaigre Peninsula in the south to the Baie Verte Peninsula in the west. Western Health extends from Port aux Basques on the southeast coast to Francois, northwest to Bartlett= s Harbour and on the eastern boundary north to Jackson= s Arm. Labrador-Grenfell Health includes the area north of Bartlett= s Harbour on the Northern Peninsula and all of Labrador.
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2007 04 05 2:00 p.m.
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