Time's Up for Showing Progress on Wait Times

    OTTAWA, April 19 /CNW Telbec/ - The Wait Time Alliance (WTA) spring
report card released today reveals that governments' collective action on
cutting wait times is achieving some positive results in implementing the
wait-time commitments made in the 2004 First Ministers' 10-Year Plan to
Strengthen Health Care.
    "Our spring report card shows governments continue to make progress,"
said WTA co-chair Dr. Lorne Bellan. "The members of the Wait Time Alliance and
their patients now need their governments to build on that momentum with
further action."
    The WTA first graded governments on their progress to reduce wait times
in November 2006 in its Interim Report Card. In terms of overall progress,
there are two significant differences between the November 2006 Interim Report
Card and today's spring Report Card, those being:

    - The grade for sight restoration rose from a C to a B;
    - The grade for joint replacement is now assessed separately for hip and
      knee replacement. In 2006 joint replacement received a C grade -
      today's report card assigns a B grade for hip replacement and a C for
      knee replacement.

    The grading for the three other priority areas remains unchanged; cardiac
care (bypass grafting only) and cancer care (radiation oncology) both retain
their A grade. The grade for diagnostic imaging remains unchanged as well
because no benchmarks have been established.
    The timing of the release of the WTA spring Report Card reflects the
commitment made, as part of the 10-Year Plan, by all governments to have
secured "meaningful reductions in wait times" for the five priority areas by
March 31, 2007.
    In terms of "Access Enablers", or actions taken by government to address
the key barriers to access in each of the five priority areas, the national
grades are as follows;

    - Cardiac care (bypass grafting only) and sight restoration gets an A
    - CT, hip replacement and cancer care get a B grade; and, knee
      replacement and MRI get a C grade.

    In regard to the provincial "Trends" in reducing wait times between 2005
and 2006, the Report Card again shows progress is being made in most areas in
a majority of the provinces.
    Accompanying the WTA spring Report Card is the WTA Progress Report, which
identifies significant challenges that must be overcome and recommended
actions to do so. To move forward, the WTA is now calling for action in
several other areas including:

    - Clarifying and standardizing wait-time definitions/criteria among
    - Creating a National Health Workforce Strategy,
    - Creating a Health Delivery Infrastructure Fund; and,
    - Expanding wait time reduction efforts and the creation of wait time
      benchmarks in other areas of care.

    "Workforce and capacity issues remain the key hurdles to be overcome to
improve patient wait times," said CMA President, Dr. Colin McMillan.
"Benchmarks and care guarantees are critical, but we'll never be able to meet
them without more doctors, nurses and other health care professionals working
in the system."
    The WTA also announced today that it is fulfilling its mandate to support
improved access to health care services as broadly as possible by expanding to
develop benchmarks in the areas of emergency care, psychiatry and
gastroenterology and facial reconstruction.
    "While the job is not completely done in the original five areas, the WTA
believes it's time to look ahead," said Dr. Bellan. "That is why we are
expanding to the next phase of the wait time benchmark development process."

    Joining the existing member of the WTA will be the:

     Canadian Anaesthesiologists' Society;
     Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians;
     Canadian Association of Gastroenterology;
     Canadian Psychiatric Association;
     Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons.

    The expanded WTA, while continuing to focus on the original five priority
areas, will develop access benchmarks in these five new areas over the coming
months and will present them to governments. The WTA will also work with other
specialty and primary care associations to identify and develop further
medically acceptable performance goals and benchmarks for obtaining timely
access to high quality health care.

     The Wait Time Alliance of Canada (WTA) is comprised of the Canadian
         Association of Nuclear Medicine, the Canadian Association of
      Radiation Oncology, the Canadian Association of Radiologists, the
     Canadian Cardiovascular Society, the Canadian Medical Association,
     the Canadian Ophthalmological Society, and the Canadian Orthopaedic

     Media can access the Interim Report Card and background materials at

For further information:

For further information: Steve Wharry, (800) 663-7336 ext. 2135, (613)
731-8610 ext. 2135

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