September 24th, 2020

// Immediate Resources Needed to Clear Backlog of Patient Services and Surgeries

Immediate Resources Needed to Clear Backlog of Patient Services and Surgeries

TORONTO, Sept. 23, 2020  /CNW/ - Amid the rise in positive cases in Ontario, the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) is calling for an immediate and significant infusion of resources to address the extensive existing backlog in medically necessary patient services and surgeries so that the coming surge doesn't put us further behind.  

The OMA is encouraging the government to:

  • Designate and fund "COVID-19 hospital sites" within a region to isolate known COVID-19 cases from other patients and allow the remainder of hospitals to focus on addressing the backlog. 
  • Provide necessary resources to increase capacity and enable more procedures and services. These resources could include establishing Alternate Health Facilities, expanding Independent Health Facilities and out-of-hospital premises, and designating non-COVID-19 sites such as specialty hospitals, as well as keeping operating rooms open longer hours. 
  • Implement innovative funding models, such as expanding quality-based procedure funding to these facilities, as well as keeping operating rooms open longer hours. 
  • Undertake, with the OMA, comprehensive vaccination strategies and surge planning for hospitals. 
  • Make virtual care options permanent, more accessible and available for all appropriate health care needs. 
  • Provide mental health supports for physicians, who are not eligible for standard workplace programs. 
  • Provide support to keep community doctor's offices and clinics viable.

"Clearing this backlog is enormously challenging within our current model. It is essential that we look at innovative patient-focused solutions." said OMA President Dr. Samantha Hill. "Ontario's doctors are calling for immediate action to ensure patients receive the highest quality of care as quickly as possible." 

Pre-COVID-19, Ontario's doctors saw 340,000 patients a day. However, from March to the end of July, patients received 11.1 million fewer services from their physicians as compared with the same period last year – a reduction of 24 percent.  A September 1, 2020 paper published by the Canadian Medical Association Journal estimated that between March 15 and June 13, 2020, there was a backlog of 148,364 surgeries in Ontario, which would take 84 weeks to clear. 

After hours and weekend work for physicians is not enough to solve this problem alone.  There are only so many physicians who can perform these procedures and they were already working very long hours before the pandemic.

Until a vaccine or effective treatment for COVID-19 is found, physicians will be unable to see as many patients or perform as many surgeries per day due to increased infection control procedures including the extra time required to sanitize exam rooms and equipment between patients, change PPE, and maintain strict physical distancing protocols in waiting rooms. It will be extremely challenging to catch up on the backlog without a significant infusion of resources in the short term.

"Ontario's doctors have been working closely with the government throughout the pandemic to provide their unique expertise", said OMA CEO Allan O'Dette. "We are looking forward to learning more about the government's Keeping Ontarians Safe plan.  As an organization we want to continue working with the government to ensure patients have the best care possible by modernizing and integrating the health-care system. We need to apply our COVID lessons to create a safer, stronger, even more patient-centred system."        

About the OMA

The Ontario Medical Association represents Ontario's 43,000 plus physicians, medical students and retired physicians, advocating for and supporting doctors while strengthening the leadership role of doctors in caring for patients. Our vision is to be the trusted voice in transforming Ontario's health-care system.  

SOURCE Ontario Medical Association


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