Lowering Wait Times in Ontario Hospitals
Historic Investments and Innovative Programs Making Better Care Available to Patients Faster
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne was at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre today to explain how the government's investment of nearly $19 billion in health care and an expanded innovative bundled care program will help reduce wait times at Ontario hospitals.
Premier Wynne highlighted the government's commitment, which represents an increase of $822 million, or 4.6 per cent, in funding for day-to-day operations. This will allow hospitals to invest with more precision in the care and supports that further reduce wait times and address the specific needs of their patients and community.
Patients will benefit from these increased investments through reduced wait times for hip, knee, cataract, shoulder, cornea and spine surgery. This will also give hospitals the resources to expand essential services such as cardiac care, critical care, chemotherapy and treatment for strokes.
Premier Wynne also explained how the government is tackling wait times at hospitals by expanding Ontario's Bundled Care Program, which will help patients return home sooner after surgery and reduce emergency room visits and hospital readmissions. This innovative approach will play an important role in freeing up space in health care facilities by helping patients transition from hospital to home faster and with the right supports. Bundled care coordinates services and integrates funding for a patient's full spectrum of care for a specific health issue -- from the hospital right through to follow-up home care.
Ontario tested the bundled care model through a successful pilot program. Based on the success of an initial six sites, the program will now expand to 24 health care teams providing care of hip and knee surgery patients. In 2018-19, this expansion is expected to help more than 20,000 patients, increasing overall efficiency and freeing up hospital beds for more patients.
Reducing hospital wait times for patients is part of the government's plan to support care, create opportunity and make life more affordable during this period of rapid economic change. The plan includes free prescription drugs for everyone under 25, and 65 or over, through the biggest expansion of medicare in a generation, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, and easier access to affordable child care.
- Hospital operating funding in Ontario has increased by more than 65.3 per cent, from $11.3 billion in 2003-04 to almost $19 billion in 2018-19.
- As part of this, the government is investing $187 million to reduce wait times by adding more hospital beds including new medical and surgical beds, mental health beds and beds for long‐term ventilated patients.
- The government has committed $25 million in 2018–19 to expanding the bundled care program to 24 communities. Early results from the pilot program showed reduced visits to the emergency department by more than 15 per cent within a 30-day period after surgery.
- Starting with $50 million in 2018–19, the government is providing $300 million over three years in new funding for long-term care, which will allow every home to hire a registered nurse, and sets a goal of increasing the provincial average to four hours of daily care per resident by 2022.
“What I hear from people across Ontario is that they want to be sure that when they need health care, they’ll be able to get it. I completely agree, and that’s why we’re working hard to reduce wait times at hospitals across the province by making major new investments in our health care system and by developing new and innovative approaches to care. Our investments will mean hospitals can help more patients, and the bundled care program will mean faster recovery times and a better transition from surgery for tens of thousands of people across Ontario. Put together, they will mean one thing: more space at hospitals to care for people when they need it.”
“As our population grows and evolves, we must change our health care system to adapt to new realities. Ontario’s $19 billion health care investment and new, innovative programs will ensure our health partners have the tools they need to provide the best, and fastest, care.”
Dr. Helena Jaczek