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Letter to the Editor - Medical wait time concerns

Dear Editor: In Canada, lack of timely access to medically necessary health care has become well known.

Dear Editor:

In Canada, lack of timely access to medically necessary health care has become well known. The Canadian Association of Radiologists (CAR) describes the situation as "almost criminal and waiting a year for a diagnosis of Cancer is the difference between quality of life and death.

I am writing this as my husband has had 5 CT's, seen 3 specialists (one has retired), and is going to see another specialist when?

He was first diagnosed with a heart condition in January 2010. He was referred to a specialist (internist for heart) and had an appointment in April 2010. The first CT angio appointment was scheduled for November 2010. His results came before Christmas and were rather shocking as we learned that there was no problem with the heart but rather with his lungs. After seeing another specialist now in February about his lung (a specialist who did retire in March 2011) my husband was having another CT scan but this time we decided to go to Yorkton. (The specialist in Regina will always send you within Regina, they simply do not think of sending people closer to home facilities).

After debating of driving back to Regina for the results from a doctor who is retiring we decided to have everything sent to the family physician. In March he had a lung biopsy in Regina which turned out to be inconclusive (they tried many times but without success)! After waiting another 2 months for a following CT to determine if it was growing (which we knew from other ct scans before they did), my husband was referred to yet another specialist!

Frustrated and concerned as we waited and waited and did not hear anything, I took the initiative and called the specialist in Regina. I was told that another doctor was on call that day when the "urgent" fax came in and he went on holidays and the fax was lying in his "inbox" and they will get back to us. After waiting again I called this specialist again and was now told that the "urgent" fax had been moved into the other specialists inbox, who was the referred doctor in the first place But because of summer holidays there won't be any available appointments till fall. That just blew us away. We couldn't believe that could happen. It was totally out of this world that nobody would do anything! We also learned that when I called back again that my husband supposedly had a referral to this doctor a year ago which we did not know about as nobody had the right telephone number and were unable to contact us. Huh?

While treatment provided in Saskatchewan is "second to none, the problem is trying to get in," "It's broken, it needs to be fixed."

And it's a problem right across the province, I myself have seen many specialists and still have no treatment option.

According to Glenda Little, a spokesperson for the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency, cases are prioritized based on the type, site, stage of cancer and urgency of the case.

"Our wait lists are longer than we'd like to see," Little admits. "They (staff) are working as hard as they can. There are a lot of people getting cancer and we are short
The average wait time at the Saskatoon Cancer Clinic is nine to 10 weeks from referral, Regina even more. "It doesn't matter how great the treatment that we get here is if you don't make it, if you don't last long enough to get to that point."

In Canada, lack of timely access to medically necessary health care has become well known. The Fraser Institute's twentieth annual waiting list survey finds that province-wide wait times for surgical and other therapeutic treatments have increased in 2010. The total waiting time between referral from a general practitioner and delivery of elective treatment by a specialist, averaged across all 12 specialties and 10 provinces surveyed, has risen from 16.1 weeks in 2009 to 18.2 weeks in 2010. Compared to 1993, the total waiting time in 2010 is 96 percent longer.

"The fact that Canadians are now waiting more than 127 days and longer for medically necessary treatment is alarming and criminal.

Claudia Wagar
Bangor, Sask.