Patients in B.C. wait up to 23.2 weeks for medically necessary treatments. (Dreamstime)

B.C. has the longest healthcare wait times in Canada: report

Median patient wait times are 23.2 weeks in the province, compared to 19.8 nationwide

Patients in B.C. have to wait nearly a month longer for healthcare than all other Canadians, a new study suggests.

The Fraser Institute report said Tuesday the median wait time for “medically necessary treatments” in B.C. was 23.2 weeks, compared to 19.8 weeks for the rest of the country.

That was down from an all-time high of 26.2 weeks in 2017, but more than double what it was 25 years ago.

READ MORE: B.C. launches ‘team based’ care to cut down on wait times

The conservative think tank measured the time between being seen by a general practitioner to getting treatment.

In B.C., 9.1 weeks were spent getting from a general practitioner to a specialist, and 14.1 weeks were spent waiting for treatment.

READ MORE: Medical wait times cost B.C. patients $2,300 each

The Maritimes had the highest median wait times for all medically needed procedures, at 45.1 weeks in New Brunswick, 39.8 on Prince Edward Island and 34.4 in Nova Scotia.

The lowest times were 15.4 weeks in Saskatchewan and 15.7 weeks in Ontario.

Canada-wide, the longest waits were for orthopaedic surgery at 39 weeks, with plastic surgery, ophthalmology and neurosurgery all next in the high 20s.

Specialists told researchers that only urgent cardiovascular surgery and radiation oncology patients were waiting for a “median clinically reasonable” amount of time.

The biggest difference was found in orthopaedic surgery, where patients waited more than double the “reasonable” wait time of 13.5 weeks.

Waiting for a diagnosis

Before they even get treatment, the report also found British Columbians wait longer than other Canadians for certain diagnostic scans.

In 2018, patients in B.C. had to wait 20 weeks for an MRI, compared to 10.6 weeks nationwide.

READ MORE: B.C. government to increase access to MRI exams

They waited six weeks for CT scans – 1.7 weeks above the national average.

However, at a four-week wait for ultrasounds, they were just one week behind the rest of the country.


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