Doctors Manitoba renewing call to help address surgical backlog caused by pandemic

WINNIPEG — Manitoba’s health-care system has felt the brunt of COVID-19 as many Manitobans have been hospitalized due to the virus, to the point where ICU patients had to be transferred to other provinces for care.

It has also led to many surgeries being postponed.

A new report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information shows Manitoba was the only province to have significantly fewer surgeries during the second wave of the pandemic.

The data accounts for a 29 per cent drop year-over-year from 2019, while the Canadian average was just a four per cent decrease.

Doctors Manitoba is calling for action from the provincial government as 110,000 procedures were delayed, including 39,000 surgeries.

“(People are) coming to the ER with pain, with discomfort, requiring temporary solutions to problems that need definitive solutions,” said Kristjan Thompson, the president of Doctors Manitoba.

“There are surgeons and specialists that have trained over a decade waiting in this province and they’re ready and willing to do what they can, to roll up their sleeves and get this backlog addressed. So we’re here, we’re ready and we’re looking forward to working government to find solutions to deal with this backlog.”

Thompson said Doctors Manitoba has released a plan on how it feels will best deal with the backlog. He said they need to set a target date that they can realistically accomplish the procedures.

“Second recommendation is we need a task force. This isn’t just health leaders, we need frontline workers … we need people who are on the frontline of the pandemic, who are seeing their patients suffer and we need their expertise on a task force to help advise government on the next best steps to go forward.”

The third recommendation according to Thompson is accountability, which would include monthly reporting so there is a clear number of procedures that still need to be done.

Thompson said Doctors Manitoba has already had meetings with the government, noting they have been productive and they are on the same page.

Heather Stefanson, minister of health and seniors care, said the government and Doctors Manitoba have the same priorities.

“We’ll work with Doctors Manitoba and other stakeholders to ensure we have, that we’re doing the regular reporting. We’ll be a part of that and that will be established moving forward,” said Stefanson.

Uzoma Asagwara, health critic for the NDP, said frontline workers have been drawing attention to the backlog for months and the PC government has refused to be transparent about reporting or committing to a fixed deadline.

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