Canadian Medical Association – Castlegar News

Clearing backlogs for eight key surgeries suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic will require $ 1.3 billion in government cash, according to a report commissioned by the Canadian Medical Association.

Asked by the association to detail the effect of the pandemic on Canada’s health system, the consulting firm Deloitte found a backlog of 327,800 procedures across the country.

The report covered eight procedures: hip replacement, cataract surgery, knee replacement, MRI, CT scan, coronary artery bypass surgery, and breast cancer surgery.

The massive increase in COVID-19 cases packing intensive care units has led hospitals to divert resources from elective surgeries to more acute care.

Healthcare systems lost an average of 118 days of intervention time for hip replacements on the high end of the spectrum, and an average of 46 days for breast cancer surgery on the lower end.

“The pandemic has exacerbated the existing problems of access to care and it will take significant efforts and commitments to rebuild the health system,” said the president of the association, Dr Katharine Smart.

Deloitte found it would cost $ 1.3 billion in additional funding to bring wait times for various procedures back to their pre-pandemic levels by June 2022, but noted the cost could be even higher when the effect of the fourth wave is taken into account.

The World Health Organization has already warned of the potentially dangerous consequences that the new Omicron variant of COVID-19 could have for healthcare around the world.

The variant appeared in South Africa, precipitated by a spike in cases in that region.

It is not yet known whether the variant is more transmissible, or if it makes people sicker than past variants, but the WHO has told countries to prepare for the possibility.

The Liberal election platform has pledged a $ 6 billion injection into provincial health care systems to eliminate waiting lists, but provinces are wary of prescriptive funding.

The report warns that the pandemic could have serious long-term consequences for Canada’s healthcare system due to delays in procedures, diagnoses and management of chronic diseases, as well as the growing number of mental health disorders and illnesses. reported drug abuse cases.

“The legacy of this pandemic – which is still ongoing – will be felt in the years to come, and we must start working now to prevent the backlog problem from getting worse,” Smart said.

The report also looked at other health effects of the pandemic, including the number of people who have died for reasons unrelated to COVID-19.

“While it was not surprising that more Canadians died in 2020 than in a typical year, the excess death toll was higher than what can be explained by COVID-19 alone,” says The report. “While there may be several factors behind these excessive deaths, delayed or missed care due to shutdown of services and lack of sufficient capacity in overburdened health systems can be a contributing factor. “

When deaths peaked in September 2020, the number unrelated to COVID-19 was 5% higher than the expected death rate for a normal year, according to Deloitte’s analysis.

—Laura Osman, The Canadian Press

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