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This article was published 16/11/2021 (191 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Manitoba's surgery backlog is growing by the day and there's no clear timeline to indicate when and how the promised task force will deal with it.
Doctors have been pushing for quick action, and estimate more than 130,000 surgeries and diagnostic tests are in the queue.
Health Minister Audrey Gordon's office did not provide any update or comment Tuesday on the state of Manitoba's surgery backlog, except to say the task force will be announced after the throne speech.
The task force must be set up within days, not weeks, of Premier Heather Stefanson setting out her government's priorities in the Nov. 23 throne speech, a Doctors Manitoba spokesperson said in a statement.
"We have heard from both the premier and health minister that addressing the surgical backlog is a top priority for them, and that is very encouraging," spokesman Keir Johnson stated.
"The minister has said the task force will be announced following the government's speech from the throne. We hope to see the task force formed within days of the throne speech, not weeks. The backlog is getting bigger by the day, and the wait list is growing longer. Patients need to see some action to address the backlog."
Shared Health announced on Friday it will shift focus to intensive-care units and cancel surgery slates at Pan Am Clinic, Misericordia Health Centre and Victoria Hospital, as well as suspend endoscopy diagnostic procedures at Seven Oaks General Hospital as of Nov. 19. Patients who are affected will be contacted by their surgeon's office.
Johnson said that will increase the backlog during this fourth wave, and that's worrisome.
"Physicians are very concerned that our hospitals are once again not ready for an increase in COVID admissions. Because of this, nurses are being redeployed from surgery to ICU, and surgical care is being triaged as a result," he said.
"This is devastating news that will only add to the massive backlog of over 130,000 surgical and diagnostic procedures."
Doctors Manitoba, which represents more than 4,000 physicians, recommended in June that the province establish a task force to clear the backlog — a move that showed progress in B.C. Manitoba promised earlier this fall to setting up the task force, and Stefanson said upon becoming premier this month that clearing the backlog was one of her priorities.
The deputy health minister asked Doctors Manitoba for the names of potential members of the task force. The group said it should include front-line health-care workers as well as external experts. it submitted its list in the summer, "but as far as we know this group has not yet been convened," Johnson stated.
Katie May is a general-assignment reporter for the Free Press.