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Wait times

Manitoba aims at short wait for radiation therapy

WINNIPEG – Manitoba has formally implemented a radiation therapy wait-time guarantee of no more than four weeks, the most aggressive public commitment of its kind in Canada, according to the province’s health ministry.

“Manitoba already leads the country with the shortest waits for radiation therapy, but we know today’s successes will be sustained only with continued investment and innovation,” Health Minister Theresa Oswald said. “Today’s pledge sets the stage for the future investments we must and will make to ensure Manitoba continues to provide some of the best cancer treatment in the country.”

Under the guarantee, 100 per cent of patients are assured treatment within four weeks. Continued investments in medical expertise and advanced medical technology will ensure that in nearly all cases, treatment will be provided in-province within four weeks and usually far sooner. Patients will have an option for provincially paid treatment outside the province in exceptional cases where treatment cannot be provided within four weeks in Manitoba.

“Achieving the national benchmark for radiation treatment wait times is a major step towards tackling the bigger task of system-wide improvements to help all cancer patients, and their care providers, through the journey from early suspicion of cancer to rapid diagnosis and treatment,” said Dr. Dhali Dhaliwal, president and CEO, CancerCare Manitoba.

The minister noted that, in 1999, waits for cancer radiation therapy were dangerously long at six weeks. Manitoba now leads the country with average waits of approximately one week. Oswald said the government’s commitment to sustained investment will ensure continued timely treatment for Manitobans living with cancer.

Manitoba has invested aggressively in cancer treatment and prevention since 1999 including:

• investing more than $12 million in new and replacement linear accelerators and treatment vaults, providing CancerCare Manitoba with state-of-the art equipment and additional treatment capacity;

• investing $7.5 million in a world-class surgical tool, to be operational next year, that will allow non-invasive treatment of cancers in all parts of the body that would otherwise require invasive surgery or previously would have been deemed inoperable;

• committing more than $20 million to develop an expanded western Manitoba regional cancer centre in Brandon;

• tripling the number of new radiation therapy beds at the Health Sciences Centre;

• investing $3.1 for a new gamma knife at the Health Sciences Centre, allowing faster treatment of a broader range of complex cancers;

• investing $13.3 million in new annual funding for cancer drugs and a new provincial oncology drug program;

• investing $3.8 million in construction to expand outpatient chemotherapy and obstetrics at Steinbach’s Bethesda Hospital;

• opening community cancer sites in Deloraine, Russell, Neepawa, Hamiota and Pinawa;

• increasing funded oncologist positions at CancerCare Manitoba to 46 from 37;

• implementing the first colorectal screening program in Canada;

• dramatically increasing breast-cancer screenings, funding 12,500 more this year alone;

• developing the first prostate cancer public awareness program in Canada and investing over$3.4 million in the Manitoba Prostate Centre; and

• developing a voluntary province-wide human papillomavirus (HPV) prevention strategy for young women to reduce cervical cancer incidence.

Manitobans can find up-to-date information on wait times and ongoing initiatives to reduce waits at www.gov.mb.ca/health/waitlist/index.html.

Cancer Services in Manitoba: A Strategic Framework, Manitoba’s strategy to encourage partners from government and the healthcare sector to work collaboratively toward a comprehensive approach to improve cancer outcomes, is available at: www.gov.mb.ca/health/documents/cancer.pdf.

 

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