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Health Policy

Wait Times and Patient Care Guarantees

February 1, 2012

Doctors of BC believes patients must be treated within established wait time benchmarks for all major diagnostic, therapeutic, and surgical services.

In the event that treatment cannot be provided within established wait time benchmarks at the usual public facility, the provincial government must offer a care guarantee whereby treatment will be offered within the benchmark wait time at another public facility, in or out of the province, or in a private facility, at no cost to the patient.

A BC Wait Times Commission, comprised of representatives from the Doctors of BC, BC Nurses Union, Ministry of Health, health authorities and the public, should be established to monitor government compliance with respect to wait time benchmarks and to ensure that patients receive care within these established benchmarks. This commission should report quarterly on the provincial government performance in this area.

A comprehensive approach to the management and reduction of wait lists should include additional areas beyond the five priority areas identified by the First Ministers in 2004 (e.g., sight restoration, cancer care, cardiac care, joint replacements, and diagnostic imaging), address system capacity issues (e.g., health human resources, infrastructure, technology), and plan for enhanced information systems (e.g., centralize waiting lists, mechanisms to share wait time information publicly).

For more information, including background, analysis and references, please see the full policy statement.