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Insane' wait time of 4.5 years for new patients to see specialist, Canadian doctor says

A Canadian doctor said she was “shocked” after trying to refer one of her patients to a neurologist and was told the wait time was 4.5 years. (Image source: YouTube screenshot)

What happened?

  • Canadian doctor Joy Hataley, a family practice anesthetist in Kingston, Ontario, told CTV News she was “shocked” after trying to refer one of her patients to a neurologist at Kingston General Hospital and was told in a letter the wait time for new patients is 4.5 years.
  • The outlet said that while Hataley was used to long wait times — particularly from specialists — she called the 4.5-year delay “insane.”
  • “Initially I was just a bit stunned," she told CTV News Toronto on Friday. "I actually thought I misread it."
  • “I put my reading glasses on — because I am that age — to check if it was a 1.5," Hataley added. "I couldn’t fathom it was a 7.5. I walked to a physician’s room nearby me just to verify that I was actually reading 4.5.”
  • She said such a wait time deems the referral moot: “Who knows what happens in 4.5 years?" Hataley noted to CTV News Toronto. "Will we even remember that we had a consult? Will we still be on the list?"
  • Hataley posted an image of the letter to Twitter and asked Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins and Kingston MPP Sophie Kiwala for an explanation:

What is Hataley saying about Canadian patient wait times in general?

  • “I sense that this is not a problem, I perceive, to be in isolation," she told CTV News. "This issue is an issue for people across the country."
  • “I don’t think this is the norm by any stretch of the imagination," Hataley added, "but [the fact that] it even occurs at all is shocking.”
  • She also told the outlet she believes the system has “hit a wall.”
  • “My main message is: We need timely, consistent and reliable health care in our province and we do not have it,” she told CTV News.

What are other Canadian doctors saying?

  • Dr. Shawn Whatley, president of the Ontario Medical Association, told CTV News the wait times are “atrocious.”
  • Wealthier patients at least can travel to get care faster, he told the outlet, which creates “a massive two-tiered system.”
  • “We’ve known about it for 15 years where people with means can get procedures and test more quickly,” Whatley added to CTV News.
  • A 2016 Commonwealth Fund survey focusing on 11 developed countries found 56 per cent of Canadians waited more than four weeks to see a medical specialist compared to about 36 percent, which is  the international average, the outlet reported.

How are Canadian institutions reacting?

  • Kingston Health Sciences Centre told the outlet delays are “a challenge” across the board but the neurologist in this case is in high demand due to "referrals from a very large catchment area.”
  • “Ensuring the lowest possible wait times for all parts of our health-care system is a key priority, particularly including referrals from general practitioners to specialists,” Laura Gallant, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health and Long-term care, told Global News.

(H/T: Townhall)

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