Canadian Association of Gastroenterology

Canadian Association of Gastroenterology

June 19, 2012 11:06 ET

Wait Times for Patients Who Need Gastroenterology Care Are Getting Longer

CAG provides 'total wait time' data to latest Wait Time Alliance report card

Attention: Health Reporters and Editors

OAKVILLE, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 19, 2012) - The Canadian Association of Gastroenterology (CAG) applauds the Wait Time Alliance (WTA) for its release today of Shedding Light on Canadians' Total Wait for Care: Report on Wait Times in Canada, June 2012.

CAG is one of 14 national medical organizations to provide data to the annual Wait Time Alliance report. Through its latest Canadian Association of Gastroenterology Survey of Access to GastroEnterology (SAGE) completed this April, results reveal a worrisome trend of longer wait times. Data was gathered from nearly 200 participating gastroenterologists who submitted information on approximately 2,000 patient interactions within the health system. SAGE surveys were also conducted in 2005 and 2008. Over a seven-year period, the trend in longer wait times is evident according to soon to be published 2012 SAGE data.

"Our analysis shows that patient wait times are now 30 days longer than they were in 2005," says CAG Dr. Desmond Leddin, Lead on the CAG SAGE program. "This is a disturbing trend, and one which indicates a need to pursue strategies to ensure patients receive the digestive care they need in a more timely manner."

As an example, the recent SAGE data shows that a patient with a high likelihood of severe Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) can expect a total wait time of 126 days. Of these 126 days, patients wait on average 72 days for a consultation and 44 days for a diagnostic endoscopy. Given the target total wait time of 14 days for this disease category, these patients are waiting 16 weeks longer than the recommended wait time target. (See fact sheet)

"The gap between current wait times and the desired target is too wide and wait times are getting longer," says Dr. Dan Sadowski, President of the CAG. "In human terms, what this means is that many patients live with pain and some are unable to work or attend school and can only do so with difficulty while waiting for consultation and treatment."

This year, the WTA report is shedding more light on the total wait time* Canadians can experience in receiving necessary medical care. Thanks to the total wait times data collected and provided by CAG, the WTA report is now more comprehensive than ever.

"The CAG has been a source of robust information for our expanded focus on wait times", says Dr. Chris Simpson, Chair, Wait Time Alliance. "Their data on total wait times for access to care, not just a portion of it, is extremely valuable to the WTA. It not only validates that total wait times are increasing, it contributes significant insight into the patient perspective on health care in Canada and reinforces the need for greater investments in timely access to care."

"With results over the last three surveys, we can plot trends in access to digestive care over a seven-year period," says Dr. Sadowski. "Together with the broader WTA report results, we are better armed in future to work with our members to improve service and maximize available resources through programs like our Quality Program - Endoscopy (QP-E) and in our partnership with the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer (CPAC)."

Every year, approximately 1.6 million endoscopic procedures are performed in Canada, and about 20,000 Canadians are diagnosed with colon cancer. In a report released by the Canadian Cancer Society on May 9, statistics show there is a decline in deaths from colorectal cancer due to increased screening efforts.

"We are pleased that national rates in colorectal cancer are decreasing - perhaps a result of colon cancer screening programs and access to colonoscopy," says Dr. Leddin. "This demonstrates that we can indeed make a difference. We need to continue to strive for appropriate access and quality care."

Additional information:

Fact sheet on SAGE data

About the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology

The Canadian Association of Gastroenterology (CAG) was founded in 1962. Its mandate is to support and engage in the study of the organs of the digestive tract in health and disease; promote the advancement of the science and art of gastroenterology by providing leadership in patient care, research, teaching and continuing professional development; and promote and maintain the highest ethical standards. The CAG has more than 1,100 members including gastroenterologists, surgeons, pediatricians, basic scientists and nurses. Visit the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology website (www.cag-acg.org) for general information and for a full list of the association's quality and education programs.

* CAG measures the total patient wait time beginning with when a patient is referred by their family physician, and includes the wait time for consultation with a gastroenterologist as well as the time involved to have a procedure by a gastroenterologist.

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