Doctors Manitoba's detailed and updated report found a provincial backlog of surgeries and diagnostic procedures grew from 110,000 cases in June to 130,000 in October. A closer look at the numbers revealed 52,000 "non-emergent" surgical procedures, 41,000 diagnostic imaging tests and 35,000 other procedures such as allergy tests, mammograms and endoscopies to be completed.
The organization stressed that minor health issues are "becoming more complex" due to longer wait times. "This means tens of thousands of Manitobans are left waiting in pain, discomfort and uncertainty," said Dr. Kristjan Thompson, president of Doctors Manitoba. "This is a dangerous side-effect of the ongoing pandemic that is leading to delayed diagnoses, more complications, increased morbidity, and even some deaths that might have been preventable with more timely care," they added.
Doctors Manitoba met with provincial government members, including Premier Kelvin Goertzen, former health minister Heather Stefanson and current health minister Audrey Gordon. And while the task force created to oversee the backlog has taken some initial steps, a monthly reporting process and a firm provincial target deadline have not been implemented.
In a statement to Global News, Minister Gordon said the province is reviewing the Doctors Manitoba report and is "taking steps to address the backlog," including signing contracts with public and private facilities alike to perform more surgeries.
"In 2020-21, we contracted with both public and private facilities to perform over 11,000 additional procedures to help address the backlog caused by COVID-19. As of Oct. 4, we opened our fifth Request For Supply Arrangement (RFSA) to address backlogs in endoscopy, cataracts, general pediatric surgery, dental and ENT, outpatient spine procedures, and adult ENT and general surgery," she said.
Meanwhile, Doctors Manitoba worries wait times will become even worse if the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic prevents surgeries in the months ahead, Thompson said. "Doctors remain concerned, and they remain willing to increase their workload to eliminate the backlog in all areas," the report states.