Timeline for cutting Manitoba’s swelling surgical backlog coming: health minister

A timeline to clear Manitoba’s swelling backlog of surgeries and procedures is coming, the province’s health minister says.

Audrey Gordon said Friday the province will adopt three recommendations from the advocacy group Doctors Manitoba on dealing with the backlog: creating a timeline, public reporting on its progress and establishing a task force.

“We are going to move ahead with those three commitments,” Gordon said at an unrelated news conference in Selkirk.

The government announced the creation of a task force weeks ago, but has yet to announce any further details about it.

Many operations have been postponed during the pandemic to free hospital space for COVID-19 patients.

Before Friday, the province wouldn’t say if it would attach dates to cutting the number of delayed surgeries and procedures, which Doctors Manitoba estimates is now at 136,000 and climbing.

Manitobans waiting for surgery, however, will keep waiting for details on how the province will help. 

The government initially pledged to reveal its plans to clear the backlog after the throne speech, which was read in the Manitoba legislature on Nov. 23.

Health Minister Audrey Gordon then said the announcement would come this week, but said Friday it was delayed because of a scheduling issue with surgeons on the task force.

The announcement is now planned for next Wednesday, Gordon said.

That unveiling will include “creative and innovative approaches” to ensure Manitoba moves quickly to get patients the surgeries and diagnostic tests they need, she said.

Manitoba will also announce the fifth service provider who won a tender to carry out those procedures. 

Pain, anxiety prolonged: NDP

NDP health critic Uzoma Asagwara is frustrated the province is keeping the people desperate for medical help waiting.

“Manitobans have a right to know when they’re going to be able to finally get access to life-saving, life-altering surgeries and diagnostic tests,” the Union Station MLA said.

“And now all she’s done is delay those anxieties, delay people’s pain, delay people’s concern for the duration of the weekend and well into next week.”

Asagwara said the setback doesn’t instill confidence in the province’s ability to reduce the backlog in a timely fashion.

Earlier in the week, Gordon promised “hope” for the Manitobans who are waiting.

“I want action very quickly and that is why, as I mentioned before, we are ensuring that the announcement that I will be making … gives Manitobans hope, and hope that they are going to get their surgery and they will not be having to suffer for long periods of time,” she said.

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