The backlog of diagnostic tests and surgeries in Manitoba continues to lessen.

Doctors Manitoba released a new comprehensive estimate Tuesday which looks at pandemic-related disruptions. The backlog is now estimated at between 102,139 and 128,447 cases. The estimate uses a more comprehensive approach than previous ones. This includes:

  • 31,664 and 39,674 surgeries
  • 12,346 and 17,039 diagnostic imaging tests
  • 58,129 and 71,734 other procedures, including allergy testing, endoscopies, mammograms, sleep disorder studies, lung function tests and chronic pain assessments.

"Our original approach looked back at how many procedures were missed during the pandemic to estimate the backlog," explains Dr. Kristjan Thompson, Past President of Doctors Manitoba. "After two years, some of those missed procedures may no longer be required. Our new approach looks forward, using a more comprehensive analysis to estimate how much work is required to return the system to pre-pandemic performance." 

The new estimates incorporate a variety of data, including decreased volumes during the pandemic, wait lists, wait times and reports from physicians and health system leaders.

Doctors Manitoba also reviewed progress on the three recommendations it presented a year ago to the health system and has added a new recommendation:

  1. Create a task force to oversee reducing the backlog (this recommendation is complete)
  2. Provide monthly updates including the size of the backlog (this recommendation is in progress)
  3. Set a target date to clear the backlog (this recommendation is incomplete)
  4. Ensure the health system not only catches up, but also keeps up with a growing population and advances in medical practice through annual increases in surgery and diagnostic volumes when needed. (this recommendation is new)

"The creation of the Task Force last December was a major step towards clearing the backlog, but it faced an early setback when the Omicron wave arrived in Manitoba," says Dr. Thompson. "Now that most surgical and diagnostic facilities are back to pre-pandemic capacity, the Task Force can direct their attention to adding even more capacity, so the health system can catch up and keep up with the need for surgeries and testing in our province."