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Hip, knee wait times still long; radiation wait time best, report finds

Manitobans continue to suffer some of the longest waits in the country for hip and knee replacements.

A report Thursday by the Canadian Institute for Health Information ranked Manitoba second-last among provinces for meeting benchmark wait-times for these procedures.

Manitobans also have the second-longest wait for cataract surgery, the report said.

Long waits have been a concern for years.

Manitoba was able to provide timely hip and knee replacements just 68 per cent and 58 per cent of the time respectively in 2013. (The benchmark for hip and knee replacements is 182 days.) Only Nova Scotia had a poorer record.

Across Canada, benchmark wait times were met 82 per cent of the time for hip replacements and 76 per cent of the time for knee replacements.

Manitoba met benchmark wait times for cataract surgeries 62 per cent of the time, while across Canada it was accomplished 81 per cent of the time. (The benchmark is 112 days.)

There were two bright spots for Manitoba in the CIHI report, however. The province ranked first in meeting benchmark wait times for radiation therapy (100 per cent of the time) and first for repairing a fractured hip (89 per cent of the time).

Conservative health critic Myrna Driedger said she's disappointed.

"We don't seem to be improving in those key areas. In fact, things are getting worse," she said.

Driedger suggested the government study best practices in other provinces to see how it can improve its performance.

Health Minister Erin Selby expressed confidence recent initiatives will pay dividends. These include a central intake system, launched in 2012, allowing patients to choose the first available surgeon if their own doctor has a long waiting list.

Selby noted Manitoba performs the second-most hip and knee replacements per capita in the country, and there has been a reduction in the number of patients awaiting such surgeries.

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