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Health and Community Services
October 22, 2007

Newfoundland and Labrador Continues to Improve Access in Priority Areas

Recent quarterly wait times statistics from the Regional Health Authorities show that Newfoundland and Labrador continues to improve access in the five pan-Canadian benchmark areas. The Honourable Ross Wiseman, Minister of Health and Community Services, today released the data for the period of January 1 to March 31, 2007.

"Our province has been recognized nationally as a leader in reducing wait times and while we are certainly proud of our success, the true accomplishment lies in what this means for residents in our province � reduced waiting for treatment means improved health outcomes faster and greater peace of mind," said Minister Wiseman. "We have been fulfilling our commitment to reporting our wait times data quarterly for the past two years and the data shows that we are consistently improving access in the five priority areas."

Access to curative radiation therapy improved for the first quarter of this year, with 95 per cent of new cases accessing treatment within 30 days � the highest completion rate this year. Also during that quarter, 27 patients traveled to Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto to commence radiation treatment for breast and prostate cancers.

The percentage of cardiac bypass surgeries completed within the 182-day benchmark timeframe remained on par with previous quarters at 92.3 per cent for that quarter. Performance against the 182-day target has consistently remained within the 90th percent range or above since the third quarter of 2005-06.

Access to cataract surgery continues to improve, with Eastern Health reporting a 72.5 per cent completion rate within 112 days. While this reflects a decrease in comparison to the completion rate of 89.5 per cent in the previous quarter of October 1 to December 31, 2007, the number of cases completed for the first quarter of this year is up by 71 cases. Many of these cases were individuals who had been waiting near, or just past, the benchmark 112 days. Central Health surpassed benchmark again that quarter, completing 100 per cent of cases in 112 days in Gander and 100 per cent of cases in 30 days in Grand Falls-Windsor. Western Health reported a completion rate of 94.1 per cent within 112 days. Access to cataract surgery continues to improve in the Labrador-Grenfell region, with Labrador-Grenfell Health reporting a 23.3 per cent completion rate within the 112 day benchmark. It is important to note that this region relies on visiting ophthalmologists to provide this service.

Eastern Health reported the completion rate for hip replacement cases increased to 78.6 per cent in 182 days. Central Health once again achieved a rate of 100 per cent within the 182-day benchmark for hip replacement and Western Health achieved a 95.2 per cent completion rate. This is a slight decrease from the last quarter of October 1 to December 31, 2007, as individuals who had been waiting close to, or just past, the benchmark 182 days were treated in the first quarter of the year.

For Eastern Health, the knee replacement completion rate decreased to 70 per cent of cases completed in 182 days as individuals who had been waiting near or past the 182-day benchmark target were treated that quarter. Central Health improved over the previous quarter, achieving a 91 per cent completion rate. Western Health continues to provide timely access to knee replacement surgery, and reported a 96.2 per cent completion rate within 182 days.

For the second consecutive quarter, completion rates for the 48-hour hip fracture fixation benchmark are being reported on a regional level, according to the provincial methodology in which the wait time clock is turned on at date and time of registration in the emergency department of an orthopaedic care centre and turned off at date and time of surgery. The wait time is then calculated in hours, in order to precisely measure time to surgical access.

The percentage of hip fracture cases completed within the 48-hour benchmark ranged from 72.3 per cent in Eastern Health, to 100 per cent in Central Health and 80 per cent in Western Health. As with previous quarters, Labrador-Grenfell Health data is not reported for this benchmark, as there were less than 10 cases performed.

Data for cervical screening will be reported for the first time during the next quarterly update reflecting the period from April 1 to June 30, 2007, while the data for breast screening is reported on an annual basis, with the next update in July 2008.

"Our wait times success is primarily due to our investments in hospital equipment and operating room time to increase capacity," said Minister Wiseman. "Budget 2007 included a further $2 million to improve access to health services and a $22.3 million investment for new diagnostic and capital equipment which will enable us to continue improving wait times."

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Media contact:
Glenda Power
Director of Communications
Department of Health and Community Services
709-729-1377, 685-1741


Service Area

Pan-Canadian benchmarks

Newfoundland and Labrador Wait Times
(January - March, 2007)
Curative Radiotherapy

Within 4 weeks (28 days) of being ready to treat.

  • 95% in 30 days

Coronary Bypass Surgery (CABG)  
  • 92.3% of CABG cases completed in 182 days.
Level 1 Within 2 weeks (14 days) Data will be reported according to the benchmark urgency levels when implementation of the new provincial cardiac registry is completed.
Level 2 Within 6 weeks (42 days)
Level 3 Within 26 weeks (182 days)
Cataract Within 16 weeks (112 days) for patients who are at high risk.
  • Eastern Health: 72.5%
  • Central Health (Gander): 100% in 112 days
  • Central Health (GF-W): 100% in 30 days
  • Western Health: 94.1%
  • Labrador-Grenfell Health: 23.3%
Hip Replacement Within 26 weeks (182 days)
  • Eastern Health: 78.6%
  • Central Health: 100%
  • Western Health: 95.2
  • Labrador-Grenfell Health: Data not reported.
Knee Replacement Within 26 weeks (182 days)
  • Eastern Health: 70%
  • Central Health: 91%
  • Western Health: 96.2%
  • Labrador-Grenfell Health: Data not reported.
Hip Fracture Repair Fixation within 48 hours
  • Eastern Health: 72.3%
  • Central Health: 100%
  • Western Health: 80%
  • Labrador-Grenfell Health: Data not reported.
Breast Screening Women aged 50-69 every two years
  • Participation rate information will be updated on an annual basis (July 2008).
Cervical Screening Women, starting at age 18, every three years to age 69 after two normal pap tests.
  • Administrative data is not available at this time.
Notes: Joint replacement and hip fracture repair data is not available for the Labrador Grenfell Health, as fewer than 10 cases were performed during this quarter.

2007 10 22                                    9:40 a.m.

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