Information about access to cancer care added to website on health system performance in Saskatchewan

Posted on Aug 21 2012 | 1650 views

The Quality Insight website now provides information on access to cancer care treatments in this province. Several measures are now available on the provincial resource ( that has for the past 18 months been a one-stop source for information about various aspects of health system performance in Saskatchewan.

The following measures are now available and will be updated quarterly:

Wait time from referral to first medical oncologist appointment: Access has improved from 155 days in April 2010 to 60 days in March 2012.

Wait time from first appointment with medical oncologist to first chemotherapy treatment: Patients' readiness to begin treatment is variable* and this is reflected in the data, with the longest wait at 76 days and the shortest wait at 29 days in the last two years.

Wait time from when patient is ready to treat and first chemotherapy treatment: Access has improved from 19 days in July 2011 to 12 days in March 2012.

Wait time from referral to first radiation oncologist appointment: Access to care has improved from 115 days in June 2010 to 48 days in March 2012.

Wait time from first appointment with radiation oncologist to first radiation treatment: Patients' readiness to begin treatment is variable* and this is reflected in the data, with the longest wait 118 days and the shortest wait at 27 days in the past two years.

Wait time from when patient is ready to treat and first radiation treatment: In the last two years, access has improved from 20 days in April 2010 to 14 days in March 2012.

"Patients are our utmost priority and we want to ensure that they are receiving the care they need when they need it," Scott Livingstone, CEO of the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency said. "Measuring how we are doing is an important part of that work and allows us to further improve our services."

Quality Insight ( was developed, and is managed by, the province's Health Quality Council. Dr. Susan Shaw, Chair of the Council, says measurement is essential for learning and improvement. "The health system in our province has collectively set targets for improving the quality of care and the care experience for our citizens," says Dr. Shaw. "Public reporting on Quality Insight demonstrates to Saskatchewan citizens that our health system is transparent and accountable. The public and those who work in health care are using Quality Insight to inform improvement activities, see the impact of specific improvement efforts, and track overall progress toward those targets."

The Saskatchewan Cancer Agency has implemented a number of initiatives to improve access to cancer care services:

Transparent reporting that includes comparisons of Saskatchewan's performance against established targets or benchmarks can be powerful catalysts for improvement. Currently, there is only one established national benchmark for the indicators described above: that Canadians receive radiation therapy for cancer treatment within a 28-day time frame. Earlier this year, the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) reported that almost all Canadians (97%) received care within this target time in 2011; Saskatchewan has steadily increased its access since 2008 and is now one of the top performers in Canada at 99%. (For more information, please see:

"Although we have improved access over the last several years, we know there is still more work that needs to be done," Livingstone said. "And we are committed to continuous improvement for our patients and their families."

More performance targets are coming. Saskatchewan aims to establish provincial cancer surgery and treatment time targets by March 2013 (Ministry of Health Plan for 2012-13).

* Readiness to treat takes into account clinical factors and patient preference.


The Saskatchewan Cancer Agency is dedicated to providing leadership in cancer control by delivering quality cancer treatment for men, women and children, operating prevention and early detection programs and conducting groundbreaking research.

The Health Quality Council is an independent agency that measures and reports on quality of care in Saskatchewan, promotes improvement, and engages its partners in building a better, safer health system for patients.

To receive the backgrounder for this news release and/or to arrange interviews with Dr. Shaw (Health Quality Council) or Scott Livingstone (Saskatchewan Cancer Agency), please contact:

Sheila Ragush, Communications Consultant
Health Quality Council
(306)668-8810, ext. 113

Gladys Wasylenchuk
Saskatchewan Cancer Agency
(306) 791-2144

  • Weekly monitoring of the number of patients who are waiting to see an oncologist to assist in improving access.
  • Having a full complement of oncologists to serve patients.
  • Assisting the clinical staff to work better as a team and to look at how they can better serve patients.
  • Minimum staffing levels are being monitored with better forward planning of vacation and other absences.
  • A fast track process for the assessment and treatment of symptomatic radiation oncology patients is being implemented in both Saskatoon and Regina.

Categories: Media Releases

Tags: Access , cancer care , health system performance , Quality Insight , Saskatchewan Cancer Agency , wait times

Documents to download

Theme picker

Subscribe to News Updates Via E-Mail