New website in Ontario gives info on hospital waiting lists for surgery

In a new initiative patients in Ontario, Canada can now gain information on waiting times for key surgical procedures from a government website designed to track access to various health services.

Provincial officials, in launching the site this week say that the website shows wait times across the province according procedure, hospital and local health network, and patients can use the list to talk to their doctors about the possibility of having their surgery performed at a hospital with a shorter wait.

Ontarians can now click on to www.health.gov.on.ca, to find the wait times link, and see how long patients are waiting for treatment in the five key services: cataract surgery, cancer surgery, hip and knee replacements, selected cardiac procedures, and MRI and CT scans.

This Monday, the site showed that the median wait time for breast cancer surgery at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre is 20 days, for example, compared to 11 days at the Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket.

Premier Dalton McGuinty says this is the first time current wait times information has ever been collected in Ontario, and the website will empower Ontarians to see just how much progress is being made when it comes to reducing wait times across the province.

Critics however say the website is about giving Ontarians more information, but does nothing to fix the problem of long wait times.

Although Ontario's initiative is new, other provinces already track wait times online.

British Columbia and Alberta publish wait times for the five key procedures by surgeon, and Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia track times by region, while Manitoba does it for select medical procedures.

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