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Wait times

Kirby to probe Ontario wait-time data

TORONTO – Ontario’s Liberal government announced that it has appointed former senator Michael Kirby (pictured) to independently assess how the Health Ministry measures and reports on the time it takes to get MRI and CT scans.

The appointment was made just days after the province’s auditor general said information presented on the government’s wait-time website is “misleading” and should be taken “with a grain of salt.”

“Wait times reported on the Ministry of Health website combined in-patient and out-patient wait times, even though in-patients generally receive their appointment within a day,” McCarter wrote in his annual report. “At one hospital, for example, the ministry-reported wait time for a CT was 13 days but out-patients actually waited about 30 days.”

McCarter also noted that hospitals had different starting points for measuring wait times and pointed out that 33 Ontario hospitals that have MRI and CT equipment are not included in the website data because they do not receive funding under the province’s Wait Time Strategy and, therefore, are not required to report such information.

Kirby, who led a major probe into the healthcare system as head of a high-profile Senate committee, has been asked to review the auditor general’s concerns, the methodology of how wait times are calculated and reported, and to provide “additional recommendations that would further enhance public confidence in the accuracy and usability of information provided on the public website.” He is expected to report back to Health Minister George Smitherman early in the New Year.