Canada's public health care system is often praised by other countries but one Ontario woman would disagree after being told she would have to wait 4.5 years to see a neurologist. Dr. Joy Hataley is an anesthetist in Kingston, Ontario and she recently sent a patient to a neurologist at the Kingston General Hospital. The patient came back to Dr. Hataley with a letter from the neurologist saying the current wait time for new patient referrals is 4.5 years.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">🆘Please explain <a href="https://twitter.com/DrEricHoskins?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@DrEricHoskins</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/SophieKiwala?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@SophieKiwala</a> this 4.5 yr wait for <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Healthcare?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Healthcare</a> in ON😱 <a href="https://twitter.com/picardonhealth?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@picardonhealth</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/NeurologyToday?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NeurologyToday</a> <a href="https://t.co/06WDGKQk1a">pic.twitter.com/06WDGKQk1a</a></p>— Joy Hataley (@JoyHataley) <a href="https://twitter.com/JoyHataley/status/925714677753139200?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">November 1, 2017</a></blockquote>
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Dr. Hataley has always been critical of wait times and other issues with Ontario's health care system but this wait time "shocked" her. She shared the letter on Twitter in hopes of shocking others as well tagging Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins and Kingston-area MPP Sophie Kiwala in the process.
In an interview with CTVNews.ca, Dr. Hataley said she is used to hearing back from specialists who can't see her patients for months at a time but a 4.5-year wait is "insane."
Dr. Hataley also said, "This is an alarm bell. What it is to me is a red flag to the system."
The patient who received the letter is Suzan Wooldridge and she said the 4.5 year wait is "just wrong." Wooldridge works as a developmental service worker and she went on to say, "When Dr. Hataley first pulled up the response from the referral, both of us were just seeing the wait time first hand, I was just in disbelief and shocked. The more I thought about it after leaving her office I was just annoyed and felt that this is ridiculous and not in any way okay."
Wooldridge will have to travel outside of her city of Kingston to seek treatment in the meantime. "I don’t honestly feel that I should have to go to another city when we have a neurologist 4.5 minutes up the road and I’m a resident of the city in which my taxes help go towards," she said. "I don’t think it’s right or fair to drive to another city…it’s financially not easy for me to just pick up and go, as much as I would like to."
Ontario Medical Association President Dr. Shawn Whatley had some thoughts of his own on the matter, "This is unacceptable, I think we need to take this seriously, and we need to start fixing it."
A 2016 Commonwealth Fund survey found out of 11 developed countries, people had to wait for the longest to see a specialist in Canada. The report also said that 56% of Canadians surveyed said they waited longer than four weeks to see a specialist, contrast that with the 36% international average.
Canada also ranked 17th for deaths from diseases that are normally considered treatable.
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