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News Release
April 11, 2022

Fixing wait times, mental health and doctor shortages in Kingston area, priorities as June election nears

KINGSTON, Ont., April 11, 2022—Residents of Kingston are waiting longer than recommended for hip, knee, cataract and heart bypass surgeries compared to Ontarians in other parts of the province, and Ontario’s doctors have a plan to address the issue.

Province-wide, about 29 per cent of Ontarians receiving knee surgery waited longer than provincial targets, according to the latest public data from Ontario Health, along with 43 per cent who had hip surgery.

In the Kingston area, however, 73 per cent of people waited longer for hip surgery and 63 per cent waited longer for knee surgery.

Provincial guidelines recommend hip, knee and cataract surgeries be performed within 42 to 182 days from the time of decision to surgery, depending on how urgent the procedure is considered.

  • For cataract surgery, 32 per cent of Ontarians waited longer than the recommended time, with 61 per cent waiting longer in the Kingston area
  • For heart bypass surgery, eight per cent of Ontarians waited longer than the recommended 14 to 90 days, with 10 per cent waiting longer in Kingston and area
  • For MRIs, about 63 per cent of Ontarians waited longer than the recommended two to 28 days, with between 39 to 78 per cent of people in Kingston and nearby communities waiting longer

“People across Ontario are waiting longer for surgeries and MRIs than the province’s own recommendations, and the wait times are even longer for patients here in Kingston and nearby communities,” said Dr. Joy Hataley, chair of the local Ontario Medical Association district. “Physicians and other health-care workers are doing everything they can to get patients the care they need, but they need help from the province.”

As Ontarians prepare to go to the polls June 2, wait times and clearing the backlog of 21 million medical services built up during the pandemic are among the top issues. An Ipsos survey conducted for the OMA found Ontarians want the government to prioritize clearing the pandemic backlog, even if it means a short-term impact on economic recovery.

When asked by Ipsos to identify the issue most important to them, 40 per cent of Ontarians chose addressing COVID-19, followed by 10 per cent who said access to health care/long wait times/understaffed hospitals. Seven per cent said economic growth should be the government priority.

Another survey conducted for the OMA found that reducing wait times and investing in hospitals, clinics and health-care facilities were key priorities to improve health care in Hamilton and surrounding communities. 

To help solve the wait times issue, the OMA recently released a report recommending the adoption of Integrated Ambulatory Centres, publicly funded, free standing centres that could perform less complex surgeries and procedures on an outpatient basis and relieve the pressure on hospitals. Kington Health Sciences Centre in partnership with Focus Eye Centre has begun a trial of such a centre to address the backlog for cataract surgery.

Seniors in the Kingston area are also waiting longer than usual to get into a long-term care facility. For the region’s Local Health Integration Network, the median number of days waited to move in was 176 days, compared to the province-wide wait of 149 days, according to the most recent public data from Health Quality Ontario.

Residents of the region are also concerned about mental health and addiction, according to ASI, a market research firm that uses artificial intelligence methodology to obtain insights into public discussions on social media.

Among ASI’s findings:

  • Mental health and addiction are the top one or two health-care topics in which people are most engaged in four of five area ridings: Kingston and the Islands, Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston, Leeds-Grenville and Bay of Quinte
  • Men and women 65 and older are the most engaged demographic on these topics in three of those five ridings, with men 35 to 44 and the most engaged in the fourth riding

Ontario also needs more doctors to help address the issues residents are concerned about and fill gaps in the health-care system that were exacerbated during the pandemic. Kingston and surrounding areas including Greater Napanee, Prince Edward and Belleville need about 69 more doctors, according to Health Force Ontario, which posts job openings for physicians.

Ontario’s doctors have made sweeping recommendations for clearing the backlog, fixing wait times, easing the doctor shortage and addressing mental health and addiction in Prescription for Ontario: Doctors’ 5-Point Plan for Better Health Care. The OMA has called on all political parties to adopt the Prescription’s 87 recommendations to strengthen the health-care system as part of their platforms for the June 2 election.

 


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.

For further information:
Leslie Shepherd
Director, Earned and social media
Ontario Medical Association
media@oma.org