OTTAWA, June 3 (UPI) -- Canada, with a public health system regarded as a model by U.S. advocates of universal healthcare, has long wait times for patients in emergency rooms, a report says.
The annual report by the Wait Time Alliance, a doctors' advocacy group, says Canada lags behind other countries with publicly-funded healthcare systems. According to the group, 27 percent of Canadians reported waiting four or more hours in hospital emergency departments, compared to the Netherlands' 1 percent and the United Kingdom's 5 percent.
"It is not right to force Canadians to wait two or three times longer for necessary medical care than citizens of other countries that also have universal publicly funded health systems," the authors said.
Wait Time Alliance is requesting a patients' charter of rights that includes wait time guarantees.
The largest contributing factor to the delay in healthcare is the high number of seniors with dementia or other chronic health problems, who occupy hospital beds while awaiting transfer to other facilities, the report said.
"Contrary to public opinion, ED (emergency department) overcrowding is not caused by inappropriate use of EDs," the group said.