As expected Premier Doug Ford confirmed that the province is going to expand the use of day surgery clinics to reduce wait time for elective surgeries. In phase one of the program the focus will be on cataract surgeries, a procedure that has the biggest backlog of all elective procedures. Initially the province will support surgical and diagnostic clinics in Windsor, Kitchener-Waterloo and Ottawa to perform 14, 000 cataract surgeries, representing 25 percent of the province’s backlog in that procedure.
Step two will focus on Increasing the number of MRI and CT scans as well as colonoscopies and endoscopy procedures. The plan is to add 49,000 hours of MRI and CT scans.
Step three appears to call for MRI and CT capabilities to be available in the private clinics. Currently, these costly imaging tools reside chiefly in hospitals.
“When it comes to your health, the status quo is no longer acceptable,” said Premier Doug Ford. “Our government is taking bold action to reduce wait times for surgeries, all while ensuring Ontarians use their OHIP card to get the care they need, never their credit card.”
Health Minister Sylvia Jones insisted that the clinics will be subject to the same level of quality of care and safety as the hospital system.
The news release accompanying the announcement carried expressions of support from the Ontario Hospital Association, the Ontario Medical Association, Hospital CEOs like Kevin Smith of the University Hospital network. Notably absent in the list of supporters was the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons. Ford was asked to respond to a statement by the College expressing concern about safety in the new clinics.