Photo Credit: OMA

Reducing wait times for tests, treatments and procedures is No. 1 health-care priority for Ontarians


Friday, July 16, 2021 8:00:00 AM

Reducing wait times for diagnostic tests, treatments and procedures is the top health-care priority for Ontarians, according to interim results of an online survey conducted by the Ontario Medical Association.

Of the 4,200 Ontarians who have responded to the OMA's survey so far, almost 25 per cent identified wait times as their No. 1 priority, confirming what the OMA has been hearing from patients, physicians, health-care partners and others across the province.

"Wait times were an issue before the pandemic and the situation has unfortunately gotten worse," said OMA President Dr. Adam Kassam. "The impact of COVID-19 has led to almost 16 million health-care services having been delayed or deferred, which is more than one for every Ontario resident. It is, therefore, no surprise that this is the top health-care priority."

Patients had concerns about wait times even before the pandemic caused care to be delayed or deferred because of lockdown conditions or fears that going to hospitals would increase the risk of being exposed to COVID-19.

Doctors and other health-care workers have been working on the front lines of the pandemic since it began. In addition to treating COVID patients, and catching up on surgeries, diagnostic exams and other procedures that could not take place during the pandemic, family physicians and community specialists are starting to see conditions that were undetected during the pandemic and will require treatment now. Some patients are being diagnosed with cancers, heart conditions or diabetes they didn't know they had. Previously diagnosed chronic conditions have grown more serious.

Survey respondents were asked to identify one priority for improving health care in Ontario. While reducing wait times led the list, 19 per cent of survey respondents identified the need for more doctors as their priority, 17 per cent identified improvements to seniors' health, including home care and long-term care, and 14 per cent said it was improved access to mental health services.

The OMA will use the survey results along with input from doctors, health-care stakeholders and community leaders across Ontario to develop a plan for the future of health care in Ontario that will be released this fall.

"These survey results will help Ontario's doctors fix the cracks in the health-care system that the pandemic brought to light and to think through what the future of health care could and should look like," said OMA CEO Allan O'Dette. "Ontario's doctors are developing a plan that will include the bold ideas necessary to take us through the recovery phase and well into the future. It will take everyone – doctors, government, hospitals and allied health professionals – working together to fix the backlog and reduce wait times."

SOURCE: Ontario Medical Association