Long wait times for physiotherapy and occupational therapy

Report by the Canadian Physiotherapy Association (CPA) says long wait times for physiotherapy treatment or occupational therapy are affecting vulnerable patients.

Ottawa (10 August 2007) - A report by the Canadian Physiotherapy Association (CPA) says long wait times for physiotherapy treatment or occupational therapy are affecting vulnerable patients.

Ontario, the biggest province in Canada, de-listed coverage under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) for a number of physiotherapy services in 2005.

The CPA says it found that waiting times were up to three times longer in publicly-funded than in privately-funded facilities. The longest single wait uncovered by the study was 150 days.

More than half of all physicians contacted by the CPA said wait times were unacceptable. Many also cited the cost of private services as a barrier in referring patients for treatment. This was especially true in northern and eastern Canada, where wait times were the highest, it reported.

"There are people out there who need to access physical therapy services in their community and they are very limited," Cheryl Cott, lead author of the study, told CanWest News Service.

The report said that patients with chronic musculoskeletal conditions, cardiopulmonary conditions or general debility were more likely to receive publicly-funded services than privately-funded care. Most patients in this category are elderly and cannot afford private service, it said.

In Ontario, publicly-funded clinics exist for people under 16 and over 65. However, there are too few of them to meet the needs of eligible patients, the CPA says.

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