Waiting lists for cancer surgery explode in Quebec
MONTREAL—Women battling cancer in Quebec are facing a dire situation, with wait times for cancer-related surgeries having skyrocketed to three times the expected delay.
Operations expected to be scheduled within four weeks are now taking up to 12, leaving some oncologists baffled.
Susanne Poulet spent the past decade battling recurring cancer. “I’m practically not living,” she said, filled with anxiety and a fear of death.
Even so, Poulet considers herself one of the lucky ones. Recent statistics show that surgery wait times are just too long in Quebec, specifically for women battling ovarian, cervical and breast cancer.
Dr. Dominique Synott, a woman who saves lives, said she feels helpless.
“Every day I have women crying in my office, on my shoulder, because I won’t be operating on her fast enough,” Synott.
She used to operate three days a week, now she's down to one a week; if it's not cancelled. The situation is so bad that Synott is considering leaving the province. Cancer-related surgeries should be completed within four weeks, but the reality is far from it.
“We’re near 12 weeks and that's too long, and it’s not medically accepted, but what can I do?” asked Synott. She can’t do much when hospitals have reduced operating room hours for surgeons, in addition to a shortage of operating room nurses.
Five years ago the government said it would ensure all cancer-related surgeries would be done within the acceptable wait time of about one month. It’s clear that plan didn’t work out and now the new minister of health says yet another solution is in the works.
“The cancer direction is working on establishing a national registry for the waiting lists for cancer surgery and cancer treatment in general in order to have clinical guidelines to compare the situation in each of the hospitals with the clinical guidelines,” said Rejean Hebert, minister of health.
Some believe the solution is in the spending.
“Where does the money go? We pay a lot of taxes, we have more taxes than most, but we don't know what’s happened. We have fewer services for more money, something is wrong,” said Nathalie Rodrigue, speaking for the Coalition Priorite Cancer au Quebec.
For now, Poulet is hoping for the best and hoping that she too doesn’t one day find herself on a waiting list that's too long.