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Ontario doctors urging Province to prioritize surgery backlog in 2021 budget

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Ontario doctors urging Province to prioritize surgery backlog in 2021 budget

Ontario’s doctors are urging the Province to address the backlog of medical procedures caused by the pandemic when they announce the 2020-2021 budget on November 5.

Based on a report from the Ontario Medical Association (OMA), Ontario doctors have seen an 18-per-cent decrease in the number of services and procedures they’ve been able to provide from April to September—a decrease in 12.3 million procedures.

This includes not just surgeries, but also checkups and screenings that can catch illnesses and diseases in their earlier, more treatable stages, as well as immunizations that are vital for the health and well-being of children both now and later in life.

“Ontario’s doctors are there every day doing everything humanly possible to reduce the pandemic deficit, working with the government to return both our patients and the front line to full health,” Samantha Hill, president of the OMA, said in a news release.

“This pandemic deficit isn’t going away even after a vaccine is available. Speed is of the essence. Every day of delayed care means more patient suffering and more potential harm.  We trust Premier Ford and his government will step up to ensure every Ontarian gets the care they need,” she continued.

The pandemic has forced the wait times for more common procedures, including cataract surgeries, hip and knee replacements and coronary artery bypass grafts, grew from March to August, which frustrated both doctors and patients, as both felt wait times were already too long.

Additionally, according to the release from the OMA, many of Ontario’s doctors—a significant number of whom were already working 50+ hours per week—were not able to increase the number of surgical procedures they were performing per month to pre-pandemic levels until September.

Further, a report from the Canadian Medical Association Journal suggests the pandemic has created a backlog of 148,364 surgeries in Ontario from March to June, which would take 84 weeks to eliminate.

Moreover, it is estimated it will take a 20-per-cent increase in funding in order to bring wait times back in line with pre-pandemic levels.

“The overall health of all Ontarians will also impact how quickly our economy can recover,” Allan O’Dette, CEO of the OMA, said in the release.

“Longer wait times for all specialties means too many patients will not receive the care they need and miss more work, putting an added burden on them and their families. We look forward to the government’s support, and working with government, in doing the right thing for Ontario’s patients,” he continued.

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