Treaty 1 Territory, Homeland of the Red River Métis, Winnipeg MB - Dougald Lamont and the Manitoba Liberals are calling on the PCs to overhaul the way Shared Health is handling MRI scheduling after a patient was told that there are 1,000 people ahead of him, and that just having an appointment booked may take months.
In a visit with his physician December 8, 2022, Dr. Jeff Bresler was told he needed an MRI of his brain. His physician ordered the MRI but was not able to book an appointment.
After seeing his physician, Dr. Bresler received a letter from Shared Health Diagnostic Services, which said,
"Recently you were referred to Diagnostic Services for an MRI exam. Your referral has been received and is being triaged for booking ... Once an appointment date is finalized, you will receive a second letter confirming your appointment date, location and time. It may be several weeks before you receive confirmation of your appointment."
However, when Dr. Bresler had not received the follow up letter by late February, he inquired when the appointment would be. He was told on February 27, 2023, "I have just heard back from the manager of Grace Hospital's MRI department that there are over 1,000 requests ahead of yours." Once again, he did not receive an actual appointment.
"Under the Manitoba PCs, there is a waitlist to get on the waitlist, which means that we have no real idea of how many people actually need MRIs in Manitoba," said Manitoba Liberal Health Care Critic Dr. Jon Gerrard. "Other health professionals in Manitoba can manage appointments by setting up appointments quickly and completely avoid having wait lists to get an appointment. Shared Health needs to get its act together."
Dr. Bresler said his primary goal is to get an appointment, and believes he should be able to have an appointment even if it is months away. He has also inquired whether Shared Health is taking measures to address the current large backlog, and has not received a reply.
The problems with getting appointments are not restricted to MRIs. Bresler has also struggled for over 6 months to get an Endocrinology appointment to see his specialist because Shared Health only has an answering machine that does not allow voicemails to have calls returned. MLA Jon Gerrard brought this to the attention of Health Minister Audrey Gordon in November 2022, and no action has been taken to address the issue.
Manitoba Liberal Leader and MLA for St. Boniface Dougald Lamont said Shared Health and the Manitoba Government need to get people on waitlists, even if they're long, and act immediately to address the MRI bottlenecks.
"We need honest reporting and a full picture of the problem. If it's staff, add them. If it's MRIs, add them. There are people who do these jobs who haven't had a contract for over five years, so if we don't pay them properly, another province will," said Lamont. "We're seeing a pattern here of the PCs starving the public system, especially in areas where for-profit providers want to make a buck from desperate patients. Most people can't afford it and don't have private insurance."