Health and Community Services
July 28, 2008
Province Continues to See Reduced Wait Times in Priority Areas
The most recent data for the period from October 1, 2007 to December 31, 2007 show that regional health authorities continued to provide access in the majority of benchmark priority areas for 70 to 100 per cent of patients within the target timeframes. In many areas, regions continued to reach or exceed the national benchmarks by providing access for 90 to 100 per cent of patients within the benchmark targets.
"Clearly, the latest wait times data show the continued commitment of our government and our regional health authorities in improving access for residents of our province," said the Honourable Ross Wiseman, Minister of Health and Community Services. "Through our Budget 2008 investment of $52 million in new health equipment, we are also working to improve access for many other procedures including reduced wait times for diagnostic procedures."
The data indicate that individuals continue to receive timely access to curative radiotherapy. Eighty-eight per cent of patients commenced treatment for breast, lung, colorectal and prostate cancers within 30 days. Also during this time, 19 patients were referred to the Princess Margaret Hospital in Ontario to begin curative radiotherapy for breast or prostate cancer.
Access to cardiac bypass surgery continued to be provided within appropriate timeframes, with nine out of 10 patients receiving access within 182 days. The proportion of completed cases increased to the highest point to date, as 95 per cent of cases were completed within the benchmark target. Furthermore, the percentage of bypass cases completed within 182 days has consistently remained above the 90th percentile since 2006-07.
More than 1,100 cataract cases were performed in the province for the quarter. In Eastern Health, 74 per cent of 781 cataract cases were completed within 112 days. While this represents a decrease from the last quarter, 167 more cases were completed this quarter. This is the result of concentrated efforts to improve access for patients who have waited at or beyond the benchmark target. In Central Health, patients continued to receive timely access to cataract surgery within 112 days or less. Gander performed 100 per cent of 169 cases within 112 days, and Grand Falls-Windsor performed 100 per cent of 80 cases within 90 days. In Western Health, 97 per cent of 118 cases were performed within the 112 target. In Labrador Grenfell Health, locum ophthalmology services were not offered during this time.
In Eastern Health, 72 per cent of 53 hip replacement procedures were performed within the benchmark target. In Central, 100 per cent of 14 cases were performed within 90 days. Western Health achieved the benchmark for the third consecutive quarter, as 100 per cent of 10 cases were performed at 182 days.
In Eastern Health, 69 per cent of 75 knee replacement procedures were performed within 182 days. The decline in the proportion of cases completed this quarter is a reflection of concentrated efforts to improve access for patients who have waited at or beyond the benchmark target. Central Health performed 100 per cent of 20 knee replacement procedures within the 182 days. In Western Health, 100 per cent of 22 cases were performed within the benchmark target.
The demand for hip fracture surgery increased during this time, with Eastern and Western regions respectively reporting the highest increases. In comparison with the previous quarter, access improved in Eastern Health, as 77 per cent of 84 cases underwent surgery within 48 hours. In Central Health, 100 per cent of 17 cases were performed, while in Western Health, 91 per cent of 30 cases were performed within the 48 hour target. For Labrador Grenfell region, joint replacement and hip fracture data are suppressed because of the low number of cases.
For the two-year period from January 1, 2006 to December 31, 2007, the biennial participation rate for breast screening in the St. John�s centre was 52.9 per cent, for the Gander centre the rate was 72.9 per cent, and for Corner Brook centre the rate was 50.4 per cent. The national guidelines for organized breast screening in Canada recommend that 70 per cent or greater of the eligible population (ages 50-69) participate in biennial screening.
To enhance access to quality diagnostic breast screening, Budget 2008 includes $10.9 million for the purchase of 12 new digital mammography machines for placement across the province. These new machines offer the latest technology in breast screening and allow for digital storage and transmission where they can be accessed in seconds.
"As a result of this investment a total of 11 communities spanning across Newfoundland and Labrador will have the best breast screening technology available," said Minister Wiseman. "This major investment combined with the enhancements we have made to the breast screening program in the last few years, should lead to improved participation rates and earlier cancer detection."
The Provincial Breast Screening Program for Newfoundland and Labrador promotes early detection of breast cancer by providing screening services to asymptomatic women, aged 50 to 69. Through the program women can receive clinical breast exams, mammography, and information about breast health awareness. A doctor�s referral is not required for the program. Women living outside of the screening centre areas should discuss screening with their family doctor, so they can be referred to their local health care facility for mammography services.
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2008 07 28 10:15 a.m.
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