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Health Regions Boost Capacity to Handle Surgical Demand

Released on January 23, 2014

Surgical teams across the province continue to work toward the goal of improving surgical care and reducing patient wait times to less than three months from the time surgery is planned.

Statistics to the end of November show that about 79 per cent of patients are receiving a procedure within three months thanks to the Saskatchewan Surgical Initiative, which is nearing the end of its four-year transformation effort in March 2014.  There are 4,796 patients waiting more than three months for surgery – 10,555 fewer than when the Surgical Initiative began in March 2010. 

“Thanks to a monumental effort by surgical teams, patient advisors and health region administrators, we have made incredible progress toward sooner, safer and smarter surgical care,” Health Minister Dustin Duncan said.

The province’s largest and busiest health regions – Saskatoon and Regina Qu’Appelle – have both faced challenges meeting surgical demand.  The Saskatoon Health Region has implemented a mitigation plan to overcome increased demand for about 700 more surgeries this year; however, even with the increased effort, it will take until late 2014 to meet the target of providing all surgeries within three months.

“In a co-ordinated effort by our staff, physicians and our contracted medical facility, we are continuing to reduce the size of our surgical wait lists,” Saskatoon Health Region President and CEO Maura Davies said.  “In addition to tackling wait times, we have a plan in place to deal with the surge in demand that occurred this year, and to develop better methods of anticipating and responding to fluctuations in demand.”

Overall, Saskatoon has been achieving the planned increased volume of surgical cases this year, but demand rose more than expected in 2013.  The region’s mitigation plan to deal with the increased demand includes expanding operating room hours so an additional 465 surgeries can be performed this fiscal year and exploring ways to even out the wait lists of surgeons.  The region will also work with other health regions to offer patients surgeries closer to home and will increase the number of day surgeries handled by the third-party surgical centre on contract with the Saskatoon Health Region.

Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region has been steadily reducing the size of its wait list for the past 14 months, and expects to achieve the three-month surgery target for all patients by March 2015.

“The tremendous strides we have made to date will continue,” Duncan said.  “This government wasn’t afraid to set aggressive goals for improved access to surgical care for Saskatchewan patients, and now Saskatchewan’s health system is on the verge of being a national leader in providing timely surgeries.” 

Information about the Saskatchewan Surgical Initiative is available at www.sasksurgery.ca.  The website also features the Specialist Directory, which empowers patients and their primary care providers to compare options for surgical care.

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For more information, contact:

Tyler McMurchy
Health
Regina
Phone: 306-787-4083
Email: tyler.mcmurchy@health.gov.sk.ca

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