The recent publication called the Report Card on Access to Obesity Treatments for Adults in Canada 2017 was recently published by the Canadian Obesity Network and gave a detailed and comprehensive analysis of the state of bariatric surgeries performed in this country and the access to such a procedure among adults with severe obesity or BMIs over 40 kg/m².
Top Findings: a Highlight
The most striking fact is just how little bariatric surgery is performed compared to the number of eligible patients that need them. While the number of Class II and Class III obese people in Canada continues to climb, the amount of centres that offer bariatric surgery has stayed the same. Of the over 1.5 million people in the country who may be in need of the surgery where diet and exercise alone cannot help them, there are only 113 surgeons like Dr. Michel Gagner who can help them. The 113 surgeons who are able to perform these surgeries are not evenly spread out through the country.
Neither the territories nor Prince Edward Island offers bariatric surgery, despite the 15,000+ eligible patients living there who would have to first find a centre that would accept an out-of-province patient, and second, travel a great distance for a consultation and then months later again for the actual procedure. No matter where you are in the country, the total wait time from beginning to end, or referral to procedure can take over 2 years. Unfortunately, there is a risk that patients in need of this surgery may die while waiting for their procedure.
How Does Quebec Measure Up?
While certainly not the worst offender, in terms of wait times and accessibility, Quebec, like all provinces with centres that offer bariatric surgery, has some work to do. It received a B grade for its wait time between consultation and surgery, which is six to 12 months, and an F grade (like every other province) for its wait time between referral and consultation, which is up to 24 months.
While the number of weight loss surgeries continues to climb in Canada, it’s clear from this report that something needs to be done to improve the wait times and the number of centres who perform these life-saving operations.