Some Canadians waiting more than a year for elective echos

People living in the Canadian province of Manitoba are facing up to 70-week waits for elective echocardiograms, CBC reported May 28—dozens of weeks longer than those living in neighboring Saskatchewan and Ontario provinces.

According to CBC, the wait list for elective echocardiograms in Winnipeg has soared to more than 7,000 patients, with an average wait time of 66 weeks between the city’s two major hospitals, St. Boniface and Health Sciences Centre. Some 350 miles away in Regina, a patient with a doctor’s referral can schedule an echocardiogram within one week.

“It’s even worse than when I was there four years ago,” Chris Simpson, an Ontario cardiologist, told CBC. When Simpson, as the former president of the Canadian Medical Association, traveled to Winnipeg four years ago, the echo wait list was 4,000 patients long with an average wait time of 38 weeks.

Access to echocardiograms wasn’t always an issue in Manitoba—in fact, it’s a relatively recent one. Wait times in the province have more than tripled over the past three years, with an average 21-week waiting period in 2016-2017 jumping to 47.9 weeks the next year and 71.4 weeks by 2018-2019.

“It’s pretty disheartening,” Simpson said. “I don’t know of anywhere else that has this sustained problem with this degree of magnitude in echocardiography access.”

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