COVID-19 is the largest health and economic crisis of our time. Millions of people have been affected, causing hundreds of thousands of fatalities in over 217 countries and territories around the world.
The CAR has been working hard to publish guidelines and offer resources that are of value to our members. We have also taken this opportunity to resume our discussions with the federal government and push for greater support for medical imaging in Canada.
We sent some key findings from our Radiology Resumption of Clinical Services Report to the House of Commons Standing Committee of Health as well as the Federal Minister of Health to advocate for the following priorities:
- $1.5 billion investment in medical imaging equipment over three years to support Canadians and ensure there is capacity to integrate technology, and run more effectively and efficiently to deal with the growing wait lists and now influx of imaging in the healthcare system due to COVID-19
- Investing in safety protocols, such as additional cleaning, waiting room spacing and Personal Protective Equipment to reduce anxiety for patients due to COVID-19
- That the government should strike a Federal Taskforce to further outline the diagnostic imaging resources needed so that Canada is better prepared to recover and respond to a pandemic
Appearance before Standing Committee on Health
The CAR was invited to appear virtually before the committee on Wednesday, June 10. This was open access for the public on Parlvu. Thank you to our many members who tuned in. Dr. Mike Barry, CAR President and Dr. Gilles Soulez, Vice-President presented our advocacy plan to the committee and reiterated the need for federal leadership in diagnostic imaging. The ultimate goal is to improve access to these lifesaving procedures for Canadians.
Wait Times are at an All Time High
As you are keenly aware, COVID-19 scaled back radiology procedures by 50%. This has had a huge impact on wait times for patients, further backlogging the system. Prior to the pandemic, it was already estimated that patients were waiting an average of 50–82 days for CT scans and up to 89 days for MRI—waiting 20–52 days longer than recommended. These wait lists for necessary services are now much longer. This is especially concerning for oncology patients who are awaiting a lifesaving treatment that is dependent on medical imaging.
CAR member and President of the Canadian Society of Breast Imaging, Dr. Jean Seely indicated that the number of morbidities has increased due to the pandemic. A six-month interruption of breast cancer screening in Ontario will result in 98 additional women dying of breast cancer in the next 10 years and 152 over their projected lifetimes. If there is an additional six-month period where volumes are at only 50% of normal, this will lead to a total of 200 additional deaths in a decade and 273 over their lifetime (i.e. by 2050). If it takes a year to get back to normal after the interruption, the number of deaths will be 242 (10 years) and 416 (lifetime). This is only one example. We know that our members are dealing with this in their daily practices. It is the CAR’s objective to advocate for our members to obtain the resources and safety protocols required to care for patients safely and efficiently as we resume radiology services in Canada.
We Need Your Support – Please update and send the attached letter to your MP
Our presentation was well received and there was significant interest from the Standing Committee on Health. You too can be a part of our advocacy efforts. We have drafted a template letter for our members to target the member of parliament in their riding. If we can build champions within the federal house, then the better chance we have in being successful.