America Receives Canadian Patients To Relieve Medical Backlog

( – Canada will start sending cancer patients to America from the end of May. Backlogs in the Canadian healthcare system mean patients with severe illness will travel for treatment in Washington state and elsewhere, and the bill picked up by the Canadian taxpayer. All costs, including treatment, accommodation, and meals, will be fully covered. Health Minister Adrian Dix said, “We are not prepared to have people wait.”

Dix claims that 83% of patients in British Columbia start treatment within the 28 days recommended, but backlogs caused by staff shortages mean some patients are left to wait. Of the approximately 30,000 patients diagnosed with cancer in the region annually, almost 5,000 will be sent to America for treatment. Each patient will receive up to 12,000 radiation treatment sessions.

Backlogs are a frequent problem in the Canadian healthcare system. In 2020, almost 100,000 patients requiring life-saving surgery were left in limbo. Sherry Beattie from Ontario, who suffered a stroke, waited nearly a year for a relatively simple procedure to treat her atrial fibrillation. This condition causes irregular heartbeat and shortness of breath.

In 2022, the Canadian Medical Association warned that the healthcare system was “collapsing.” Much of the problem stemmed from staff shortages and exhaustion among medical professionals. “Without new thinking and a real commitment from political leaders across the country to rebuild health care, the crisis unfolding before us will simply not be resolved,” the organization said.

The problem goes back a long way. In 2016 a public policy think tank estimated that almost 60,000 Canadians crossed the border to the US for urgent treatment. The figure jumped by 25% between 2014 and 2015. In Ontario, only three hospitals could provide stem-cell therapy to treat patients with blood disorders and some cancers, but the minimum wait for treatment was almost ten weeks. As a result, Canadians traveled to facilities in Buffalo, Cleveland, and Detroit, hoping to save themselves from the failing system north of the border.

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