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Canadian brain surgery patient facing 2.5-year wait for needed MR scan

by Thomas Dworetzky , Contributing Reporter
A patient goes to the doctor after brain surgery because she is suffering from terrible headaches, and the doctor orders an MR. Then the patient gets a notice in the mail that her MR is scheduled for August 14, 2019 – two-and-a-half years away.

“That's what Linda McClure from Surrey is dealing with, Honorable Speaker,” Member Judy Darcy of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, Canada, said on the floor of the Legislature recently.

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“I burst out laughing when I saw the date,” McClure told iNews 880AM radio.

“We have raised several stories about British Columbians waiting too long for quality public health care. Frail seniors waiting for appropriate staffing levels, families needing primary care, patients waiting day after day after day in hospital hallways. And the Minister has made excuse after excuse,” Darcy said, according to the station.



In Calgary the MR could be done right away, but British Columbia has a severe shortage of MR machines.

Health Minister Terry Lake stated that Liberals have been tackling the issue of the lack of machines in the province.

“She shouldn’t have to wait that long,” he said.

He advised that more MR machines are on the way.

In February the B.C. government announced a $25 million infusion into the health care system to help to cut the backlog, according to the news station.

"Despite significantly increasing the number of surgeries and MR scans being done each year, we are struggling to keep pace with the growing demand," Lake said, according to CBC News.

Plans call for directing the funds to expand operating room hours and speed up access for patients who have been waiting more than 40 weeks for surgery – and to get four more MR machines in B.C.

"This extra funding will provide health authorities with additional support as they complete their plans for these procedures in the upcoming year, and while we work together to implement strategies that improve access over the longer-term."

Wait time in B.C. for MR scans is about 24 weeks – over double the Canadian national average, which is 11.1 weeks, according to a 2016 study by the Fraser Institute.

The B.C. health ministry criticized those findings, however, when they were released in November, 2016.

"It is important to remember the results of the Fraser Institute survey are based on opinion, not science. Reasonable wait times must be based on clinical data, not on personal opinion," said the ministry in a statement, according to CBC.

"We also note that there was a low response rate to this survey — only 442 of the 5799 specialists in B.C. — that's 7.6 per cent of all specialists, responded to this survey," it stated.

There are now 25 MR machines in British Columbia hospitals.

The four new machines will be located at the Jim Pattison Outpatient and Surgical Centre in Surrey, Ridge Meadows Hospital in Maple Ridge, Vernon Jubilee Hospital and Nanaimo Regional Hospital.

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