'Totally unacceptable': Edmonton doctor says scan wait times are the worst he's ever seen
EDMONTON -- A local family doctor of 35 years says CT and MRI scan wait times in the past six months are the worst he's ever seen.
"Whenever we try to send someone for an MRI or a CT scan, depending on whether it’s urgent or semi-urgent, the delays were longer and longer and longer," Dr. Ernie Schuster, the president of the Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association, told CTV News Edmonton.
Schuster says it's taking, on average, 200 days to get an MRI or a CT scan, and that the standard is fewer than 30 days.
"So I end up sending them for a private CT scan when they can afford it, but the real bad thing that happens is they cannot afford it and they can be sitting with cancer without knowing for six months and that’s totally unacceptable, so that’s why I’m raising the issue."
In a statement to CTV News Edmonton, AHS said CT scan wait times have increased "due to a spike in emergency and inpatient demand and the end of one-time surge funding."
The NDP increased funding last year to reduce wait times, and the spending has returned to previous levels.
Ministry of Health Press Secretary Steve Buick told CTV News AHS's cost per scan is up to 50 per cent higher than other provinces.
"We need to work with clinicians to reduce these costs and reinvest the savings in doing more scans when they're needed, not throw more 'one-time' dollars at the system."
AHS said it is working to ensure urgent scans are given priority and that doctors only issue referrals when appropriate.
"I don't want to blame the government of AHS," Schuster said. "I just want it fixed because it's not good for patients."
With files from CTV News Edmonton's Nicole Weisberg