Nova Scotians wait longer than other Canadians for cataract surgery and joint replacements, according to a new report.
A national watchdog organization for medical wait times in five priority areas of health care issued its annual report card last week, and Nova Scotia scored the worst possible grade for orthopedic wait times.
"The scores, I thought, were quite disappointing for Nova Scotia," said Dr. Lorne Bellan, co-chair of the Wait Time Alliance. "If you got an F, that means less than 50 per cent of the population got treated within the benchmark the government agreed to meet."
Nova Scotia has the highest percentage of elderly people in the country, and the report card shows that many of those people are waiting longer than the six-month benchmark for a new hip or knee.
Only 69 per cent of patients in Nova Scotia get cataract surgery within the national benchmark of 16 weeks, earning the province a C grade in that category.
"Improving wait times is a priority for our government and we've invested a fair degree of resources and equipment around the province," said Health Minister Maureen MacDonald.
She said measures are being taken to address the problem areas. But she said the report failed to capture improvements made in other areas.
"Wait times for cancer, for example, radiation therapy. If this report were based on wait times today, we would have gotten an A in that area."
MacDonald has ordered Capital Health, the largest provider of health care in the province, to come up with a plan to reduce wait times. The province is also spending more on treatments such as physiotherapy in order to reduce the demand for surgery.
The province scored a respectable B grade for giving the public comprehensive information about wait times for dozens of procedures in each health district.