Manitoba surgery wait times improving since start of pandemic

New data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) shows surgery wait times have improved in Manitoba since the pandemic began, and for some procedures have even exceeded pre-pandemic levels.

“It’s encouraging to see that lessons learned from earlier in the pandemic improved wait times for cataract surgeries and MRIs; however, the numbers don’t paint the full picture,” said Tracy Johnson, CIHI’s director of health systems analytics.

“There are people behind the numbers, and we don’t yet know all the ways in which delayed testing and procedures have impacted the overall health or quality of life of patients in Canada.”

The data, released by CIHI on Tuesday, shows during the pandemic most Manitobans received care for urgent procedures, such as radiation therapy and hip fracture repairs, within the recommended time frames to receive these treatments.

However, for joint replacements, Manitobans tended to experience longer wait times.

In 2021, 38 per cent of patients received knee replacements within the recommended time frame of 26 weeks, while pre-pandemic that number was 46 per cent.

Though in 2021, patients still waited longer for knee replacements compared to pre-pandemic levels, it is still a rebound from the 37 per cent of patients who received knee replacements within the recommended time frame in 2020.

For hip replacements, 55 per cent of patients received the procedure within the recommended time frame last year. This was on par with pre-pandemic levels, and an increase from 47 per cent in 2020.

The CIHI data also shows that wait times for cataract surgeries are getting shorter in Manitoba.

In 2021, 39 per cent of patients received cataract surgery within the recommended time frame of 16 weeks.

This exceeds pre-pandemic levels, which saw 33 per cent of Manitobans getting cataract surgery within the recommended time frame.

Manitoba’s numbers align with what is being seen across the rest of the country, with wait times improving since the start of the pandemic. However, in many cases, Canadians still saw longer wait times in 2020 and 2021 compared to before the pandemic.

CIHI’s data found that about 600,000 fewer surgeries were performed across Canada since the start of the pandemic. Joint replacements and cataract surgeries accounted for about 25 per cent of those reductions.

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