Last November, CTV News in Canada ran this incredible story about growing wait times for medical care in Canada due to its socialized medical system: “‘It’s insane’: Ont. patient told she’d have to wait 4.5 years to see a neurologist.” Here’s a slice:
An Ontario doctor says health-care wait times have reached “insane” lengths in the province, as one of her patients faces a 4.5-year wait to see a neurologist. When Dr. Joy Hataley, a family practice anesthetist in Kingston, Ontario, recently tried to send a patient to a neurologist at the Kingston General Hospital, she received a letter from the specialist’s office telling her that the current wait time for new patient referrals is 4.5 years. The letter said that, if the delay is “unacceptable” to Dr. Hataley, she should instead refer the patient to a neurologist in Ottawa or Toronto.
Dr. Joy Hataley said she was shocked when she received this letter from a neurologist’s office. Dr. Hataley, who has been outspoken about wait times and other issues plaguing Ontario’s health care system, said the wait time “shocked” her. She wanted to shock others as well, so she tweeted a photo of the letter above and tagged Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins and Kingston-area MPP Sophie Kiwala. Dr. Hataley said she’s used to hearing back from specialists who are unable to see her patients for months, and even up to 2.5 years. But a 4.5-year wait is “insane,” she told CTVNews.ca in a telephone interview. “This is an alarm bell,” she said. “What it is to me is a red flag to the system.”
“When Dr. Hataley first pulled up the response from the referral, both of us were just seeing the wait time first hand, I was just in disbelief and shocked,” Wooldridge, a 40-year-old developmental service worker, told CTVNews.ca in an email. “The more I thought about it after leaving her office I was just annoyed and felt that this is ridiculous and not in any way okay.” Wooldridge said she will continue to live with chronic pain and be cared for by Dr. Hataley until she can see a neurologist. She said she shouldn’t have to travel outside of Kingston to see a specialist.
“I don’t honestly feel that I should have to go to another city when we have a neurologist 4.5 minutes up the road and I’m a resident of the city in which my taxes help go towards,” she wrote. “I don’t think it’s right or fair to drive to another city…it’s financially not easy for me to just pick up and go, as much as I would like to.”
Related: This is from the executive summary of Canada’s Fraser Institute’s most recent annual report “Waiting Your Turn: Wait Times for Health Care in Canada, 2017 Report” (emphasis added):
Waiting for treatment has become a defining characteristic of Canadian health care. In order to document the lengthy queues for visits to specialists and for diagnostic and surgical procedures in the country, the Fraser Institute has—for over two decades—surveyed specialist physicians across 12 specialties and 10 provinces. This edition of Waiting Your Turn indicates that, overall, waiting times for medically necessary treatment have increased since last year. Specialist physicians surveyed report a median waiting time of 21.2 weeks between referral from a general practitioner and receipt of treatment—longer than the wait of 20.0 weeks reported in 2016. This year’s wait time—the longest ever recorded in this survey’s history—is 128% longer than in 1993, when it was just 9.3 weeks (see graphic above).
In the video below, Ronald Reagan tells the joke about waiting ten years to get a new car in the Soviet Union. Here’s my variation of that joke for the Canadian medical system.
A patient in Canada is told by a hospital administrator that there will be a five-year wait for an appointment with a neurologist. The patient asks “Will that be in the morning or the afternoon.” The hospital administrator asks “What difference does that make, it’s not until five years from today.” The patient says, “Well, I have my next dental appointment on that day in the morning.”