03/19/2013 03:07 EDT | Updated 05/19/2013 05:12 EDT

More patients getting surgery, but most wait times not improving: report

TORONTO - A new report says more Canadians received joint replacements and other priority procedures in 2012 than in any other year, but there was no overall reduction in how long patients had to wait for their treatments.

The report Tuesday by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) shows that more than 538,000 Canadians had priority surgical procedures and specialized treatments last year — 21,000 more than in 2011.

However, government wait-time targets set in 2004 for bypass surgery, hip and knee replacements, hip fracture repair and cataract surgery still aren't being met.

The number of hip and knee replacements performed rose by 15 per cent between 2010 and 2012, at a cost of more than $100 million.

But the proportion of patients who received timely hip and knee replacements in 2012 both fell by four per cent from two years earlier — to 80 per cent for new hip joints and 75 per cent for knees.

Only radiation therapy surpassed the 90 per cent target, with 97 per cent of patients getting treatment within the recommended 28 days.

"Hospitals across Canada continue to provide more procedures to more patients," said Jeremy Veillard, CIHI's vice-president of research and analysis. "At the same time, this growing volume presents a challenge to efforts to reduce the time that each individual patient waits."

The report found wait times vary across the country, with more than half the provinces — P.E.I, New Brunswick, Quebec, Manitoba, B.C. and Saskatchewan — seeing a reduction in the percentage of procedures meeting benchmarks over a three-year period.



Progress on reducing waits can be tracked using CIHI’s interactive graphics at