Health and Community Services
January 11, 2008

Newfoundland and Labrador Remains Effective in Wait Times Management

Newfoundland and Labrador continues to achieve wait times at or near the nationally established benchmarks in the five priority areas. The Honourable Ross Wiseman, Minister of Health and Community Services, today provided the most recent update for the period of April 1, 2007 to June 30, 2007. As well, participation rates for the cervical screening initiatives program are reported for the first time during the quarter.

"Once again, the data clearly indicate that our wait time management strategies are effective and we are consistently improving access to services, which means a shorter waiting time for individuals and their families," said Minister Wiseman. "Last year�s budget investment to improve access to services, combined with the commitment of physicians and the staff in our regional health authorities, have resulted in a great success story in wait times for this province."

Access to curative radiation therapy remained above the 90th percentile again for the quarter, with 93 per cent of new breast, lung, colorectal and prostate cancer patients accessing treatment within 30 days. Also during this quarter, 10 patients traveled to Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto to commence radiation treatment for breast and prostate cancer.

The percentage of cardiac bypass (CABG) cases completed within the 182 day benchmark timeframe was 92 per cent for the quarter. Performance against the 182 day target has consistently remained above the 90th percentile range since the third quarter of 2005-06.

Eastern Health reported a 75.4 per cent completion rate for the 663 (local) cataract cases completed during the quarter. This reflects a 28 per cent increase in completed cases in comparison to the same quarter in the previous year. In central region, both the Gander and Grand Falls-Windsor sites exceeded the benchmark, with 100 per cent completion rates within 90 days. Western Health improved over the previous quarter with a 97 per cent completion rate within 112 days. Labrador-Grenfell Health region reported a marked improvement from the previous quarter with a completion rate of 75 per cent for 26 cases within the 112 day benchmark timeframe.

Eastern Health performed 78.7 per cent of 47 hip replacement cases within 182 days for the quarter. Central Health continued to meet the benchmark by performing 100 per cent of cases in 182 days. The completion rate in Western Health increased from 95.2 per cent in the previous quarter to 100 per cent for 20 cases completed in this quarter. For Labrador-Grenfell Health, data are not reported as fewer than 10 cases were performed in the quarter.

Eastern Health performed 77.5 per cent of 89 knee replacement cases within 182 days during the quarter. Central Health reported a 96.4 per cent completion rate for 28 cases within the benchmark. The completion rate in Western Health remains unchanged from the previous quarter at 96 per cent. Data for Labrador-Grenfell Health is not reported as there were fewer than 10 cases performed for the quarter.

The percentage of hip fracture cases completed with the 48 hour benchmark improved to 74.6 per cent for 59 cases completed by Eastern Health during the quarter. For Western Health, the completion rate increased to 100 per cent within 48 hours for the 27 cases completed in the quarter. In Central and Labrador Grenfell regions, a low number of cases were performed this quarter; therefore, data are suppressed.

"When interpreting the data it is important to recognize the fact that Eastern Health serves the largest proportion of our population at almost 300,000 people, and also provides secondary and tertiary services for the entire province," said Minister Wiseman. "This means that Eastern Health is performing many more cases for each procedure which impacts the wait times in this region."

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 stops when the patient receives the service, or the initial service in a series. The wait is then measured in calendar days between start and stop. In the case of the hip fracture benchmark, the wait time clock is turned on at date/ time of registration in the emergency department of an orthopedic care centre and turned off at date/time of surgery.

New data being reported for the quarter is the uptake for cervical screening. The benchmark for screening in Newfoundland and Labrador is one Pap test per year, as opposed to the national benchmark of one pap in three years after two normal Pap tests. The provincial participation rate for the 2006 calendar year was 42 per cent.

"The Provincial Cervical Screening Initiatives Program is in place in each of the four health regions in the province," said Minister Wiseman. "The provincial team will be working collaboratively with outside groups to increase the number of women who avail of cervical screening and the frequency of screening."

One of the biggest risk factors for developing cervical cancer is not being screened.

To access cervical screening women should seek their Pap test from their regular health care provider or specially designated clinics.

The next update on provincial wait times will be released in April.

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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 � First Quarter (April-June, 2007)
Curative Radiotherapy Within 4 weeks (28 days) of being ready to treat.

93% in 30 days

Coronary Bypass

Surgery (CABG)


92% 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: 75.4%

Central Health (Gander): 100% in 90 days

Central Health (GF-W): 100% in 90 days

Western Health: 97%

Labrador-Grenfell Health: 75%

Hip Replacement Within 26 weeks (182 days)

Eastern Health: 78.7%

Central Health: 100%

Western Health: 100%

Labrador-Grenfell Health: Data suppressed.

Knee Replacement Within 26 weeks (182 days)

Eastern Health: 77.5%

Central Health: 96.4%

Western Health: 96%

Labrador-Grenfell Health: Data suppressed.

Hip Fracture Repair Fixation within 48 hours

Eastern Health: 74.6%

Central Health: Data suppressed.

Western Health: 100%

Labrador-Grenfell Health: Data suppressed.

Breast Screening Women aged 50-69 every two years

Participation rate information will be updated on an annual basis (again in 2008).

Cervical Screening Women, starting at age 18, every three years to age 69 after two normal pap tests.

Across the country, administrative data is not available to report participation rates according to the national benchmark.

NL Provincial Benchmark

Annual Participation Rates (2006)

Sexually active women aged 20-69 who had one Pap test during the period January 1, 2006 to December 31, 2006.

Eastern Health: 46%

Central Health: 40%

Western Health: 36%

Labrador-Grenfell Health: 37%

NL Provincial Rate: 42%

Notes: Joint replacement and hip fracture repair data is suppressed for the Labrador Grenfell Health region, as fewer than 10 cases were performed during this quarter. Likewise, hip fracture repair data is suppressed for the Central Health region, as fewer than 10 cases were performed during this quarter.
Source: Regional Health Authorities and Cervical Screening Initiatives Program, Newfoundland and Labrador

2008 01 11                                                     10:20 a.m.

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