Primary Care Wait Time Partnership
Access to care is one of the most discussed issues facing the Canadian health care system. To provide more timely access to care, a succession of federal governments – followed by their provincial / territorial counterparts – have committed to wait time strategies that include wait time funding to support the achievement of wait time benchmarks and guarantees. As a further step, wait time registries have been launched so that patients can get on a list and track the waiting period for specific surgical and diagnostic procedures. But the question remains: is access to health care improving for Canadians?
To contribute to these discussions, the Primary Care Wait Time Partnership (PCWTP) is mandated to delve more deeply into primary care wait times and to consider the development of evidence-based benchmarks and/or targets for timely access in primary care. The first of two anticipated reports from the PCWTP, this paper seeks to “scope-out” primary care wait times to stimulate discussion and to seek agreement about ways to improve timely access to primary care and from primary to more highly specialized care. It is expected that this will lead to another paper in 2008 to further define wait times in primary care.