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Ontario Reducing Wait Times for MRI and CT Scans

Community surgical and diagnostic centres connecting people to faster, more convenient care with their health card

As part of the Your Health plan, the Ontario government is taking the next step to make it easier and faster for people to connect to publicly-funded surgeries and procedures by adding 100,000 more MRI and CT scans at community surgical and diagnostic centres across the province each year.

“When it comes to wait times for surgeries and procedures, the status quo is not acceptable. That’s why our government is taking bold action to boost access to surgeries and diagnostic imaging so that Ontarians can conveniently access the care they need sooner, closer to home,” said Sylvia Jones, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.

“Increasing the number of MRI and CT scans being done each year is the next step we’re taking to reduce wait times for more publicly funded surgeries and procedures, ensuring people get the care they need, when they need it.”

A call for applications opened on June 3, 2024, with new licences expected to be issued starting in Fall 2024 that will connect nearly 100,000 more people to scans each year.

This expansion of services will also help to reduce wait times for MRI and CT scans to 28 days in every region of the province from the date the order/requisition was received to the date that people receive their scan, ensuring every person who needs imaging receives it within the medically recommended period of time.

Two additional calls for applications will be launched this summer and fall to also expand the number of community surgical and diagnostic centres that can connect people to GI endoscopy procedures and orthopedic surgeries.

New community surgical and diagnostic centres build on the successes the Ontario government has achieved since the launch of Your Health: A Plan for Connected and Convenient Care including:

  • Achieving the shortest surgical wait times of any province in Canada in 2023, with nearly 80 per cent of people receiving their procedure within clinically recommended target times.
  • Funding up to 65,568 MRI and 31,220 CT operating hours in existing community surgical and diagnostic centres over the past year.
  • Adding 49 new MRI machines in 42 hospitals across the province.
  • Adding four new licensed cataract centres to provide more publicly funded cataract and other eye surgeries. In the past year, the government has funded 32,000 eye surgery procedures at community surgical and diagnostic centres.
  • Eliminating the backlog of cervical cancer screening tests at the end of August 2023. Testing turnaround times returned to the pre-pandemic standard of 10 to 14 days.

As the government significantly expands the number of surgeries being done through community surgical and diagnostic centres, it is ensuring these centres are integrated and linked with the broader public health system.

This includes requiring new facilities to provide detailed staffing plans that protect the stability of staffing resources at public hospitals, reporting into the province’s wait times information system and participating in regional central intakes, where available, to ensure people get the surgery they need as quickly as possible.

All community surgical and diagnostic centres are now also under the oversight of Accreditation Canada’s new quality assurance program which provides the same strong requirements as public hospitals to improve quality standards at facilities and ensure consistent patient safety and quality care.

Existing centres have begun their transition to the new Quality Assurance (QA) program. Routine inspections by Accreditation Canada’s new QA program are set to begin October 2024.

As legislated in Bill 60, all applications must submit a detailed staffing plan, details on how they consulted with health system partners, show current linkages to the health care system as well as detailing their processes for providing information and obtaining patient consent amongst other requirements.

No centre can refuse an insured service to a patient who chooses not to purchase uninsured upgrades and no patient can pay to receive insured services faster than anyone else.

This is an open province-wide call for applications – all eligible applicants are welcome to apply. The call for applications is open for 10 weeks starting June 3, 2024, and will close at 11:59 p.m. on Monday August 12, 2024.

Questions about the call for applications process, the application guidelines, and/or the application form must be emailed to ICHSC.Applications@ontario.ca by June 17, 2024, 11:59 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time) so that answers can be posted on the ministry’s website to assist all applicants in completing their application.

For over 30 years, community surgical and diagnostic centres have been providing publicly funded diagnostic imaging, surgeries and procedures in the community.

There are currently over 900 community surgical and diagnostic centres throughout Ontario; the majority provide diagnostic imaging services.

Image by Mufid Majnun from Pixabay

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