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Surgical Performance and Wait Times

Information posted on February 17, 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the delivery of surgical services. The disruption in service resulted in about 20 per cent fewer surgeries performed in 2020-21, more patients waiting for surgery, and longer wait times.

Saskatchewan has experienced additional, temporary reductions in surgical volumes through 2021-22 related to pandemic surges. Emergency and urgent surgeries have continued throughout this time. Surgical volumes are projected to reach 80,000 procedures by March 31 2022, about 10% fewer than pre-COVID volumes.

On December 9, 2021, the government and the SHA announced aggressive actions to eliminate the COVID-related surgical backlog. A target has been set to perform an additional 7,000 surgeries in 2022-23 over pre-pandemic levels. Volume targets will continue to grow over the next few years and there will be an emphasis on surgical procedures with high numbers of long-waiting patients.

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1. Performance Update

This performance update provides surgical data from October 1 to December 31, 2021.

Results as of December 31, 2021 (posted on February 17, 2022)

Between October 1 and December 31 2021, there were 17,317 surgeries performed, with 78.5 per cent of patients receiving their surgery, or an offer of surgery, within three months, 88.3 per cent within six months, and 96.2 per cent within twelve months. 

Access to Surgery - Provincial
(October 1, 2021 to December 31, 2021)
Surgeries Performed or Offered Within Three Months 78.5%
Surgeries Performed or Offered Within Six Months 88.3%
Surgeries Performed or Offered Within Twelve Months 96.2%
Percentage calculated over the time period. A small number of patients were offered surgery within three months, but opted for a later date.
Number of Patients Waiting
(Change Since March 2010)
  March 31, 2010 December 31, 2021 Change Since 2010
Cases Waiting More Than Three Months 15,321 22,770 +48.3%
Cases Waiting More Than Six Months 9,887 16,683 +68.2%
Cases Waiting More Than Twelve Months 4,016 8,443 +108.5%

In addition to reporting the wait time from when surgery was booked to when surgery was provided, we also report the wait time from the booking date to the date the patient could have received surgery, since some patients choose to wait longer than the earliest date offered to them.

Surgical facilities by area of the province
North West Hospitals in North Battleford, Lloydminster, Meadow Lake
North East Hospitals in Melfort, Prince Albert, Nipawin
Saskatoon Facilities in Saskatoon, including Saskatoon City Hospital, St. Paul's Hospital, Royal University Hospital, Jim Pattison Children's Hospital, and Parkview Surgical Centre
South West Hospitals in Swift Current, Moose Jaw, Rosetown, Kindersley
South East Hospitals in Estevan, Weyburn, Yorkton, Humboldt
Regina Facilities in Regina, including Regina General Hospital, Pasqua Hospital, and Regina Surgical Centre
Access to Surgery by Area of Service
  October 1, 2021 to December 31, 2021 On December 31, 2021
Area of Service Surgeries Performed Within Three Months Surgeries Performed or Offered Within Three Months Patients Waiting More Than Three Months Patients Waiting: No Offer of Surgery Within Three Months
North West 80.9% 89.0% 629 368
North East 78.3% 84.0% 1,097 948
Saskatoon 77.2% 78.7% 11,903 11,320
South West 79.3% 83.4% 636 579
South East 93.6% 97.3% 128 53
Regina 72.3% 72.5% 8,377 8,313
Provincial 76.5% 78.5% 22,770 21,581

The percentage reflects the proportion of surgeries that were performed or offered within 3 months of the booking date. "Patients Waiting" counts the number of cases on that date in which a patient hasn't had surgery yet and has waited longer than three months. Area of Service indicates the location of the surgical centre in which the surgery took place, not the patients' place of residence.

There were 16,683 patients on the wait list who had already waited six months on December 31, 2021. Between October 1 and December 31, 2021, percentage of surgeries performed within six months:

  • Province wide: 88.3 per cent;
  • Regina: 81.7 per cent;
  • Saskatoon: 89.4 per cent;
  • In the other four service areas, percentages ranged from 93.8 to 99.2 per cent.

There were a total of 36,426 patients waiting for surgery on December 31 2021, (including people waiting less than three months). This is an increase of 33.8 per cent (or 9,203 more cases waiting) since March 2010.

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2. Interactive Wait Time Graphs

The tables below give some information about recent surgical wait times in different areas of the province. They show the number of surgeries performed in the last three months, as well as how long people waited for the surgeries that were performed. They also show the number of patients currently waiting in each area. This information can give you a rough idea what the current wait times are for surgery. The tables can be sorted by specialty, so you can see how long the wait times are for a specific group of procedures like orthopedics or urology. They can also be sorted by area.

Current Wait Times - Median/90th Percentile

This table shows the median and 90th percentile wait times for the surgeries that were performed in the last three months. The 90th percentile wait time is the time by which nine out of 10 (90%) of patients received the procedure. The median is the time by which five out 10 (50%) of patients received the procedure.

Table - Waits by Service Area and Specialty

This table shows how long patients waited according to established wait time categories -- ranging from within 3 weeks to more than 12 months. Wait times are shown as the percentage of patients who had their surgery within that time category.

Graph - Distribution of Waits

This graph shows the distribution of wait times among patients who recently had surgery. It shows that most people get their surgery in the first few months after their procedure is booked by a surgeon, while other people wait many months from the time of booking. Some people have shorter waits because their procedure is urgent.

Wait Time Trends

The following three graphs show how surgical data and trends are monitored in the province. This report shows the monthly trend over the last 14 years of the median and 90th percentile wait times. You can refine your search by selecting an area of the province.

Counts of Patients Waiting by Time Already Waited

This report shows the number of patients waiting for surgery at the end of each month over the past 14 years. You can define your search by selecting an area of the province.

Surgical Volumes

This report shows the number of surgeries performed each month over the past seven years. You can refine your search by selecting an area of the province.

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3. Cancer Surgery

Click on the following links to see wait time information on some common procedures performed for cancer or suspected cancer. The cancer wait time cases reported here are a subset of the total reported surgery cases. (Cancer cases are also included in other data shown on the website.) These links will open as PDF documents.

Cancer Surgery Wait Times by Area of Service

Selected Procedures:

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4. Provincial Comparison

Since 2005 there have been pan Canadian benchmarks for access to health services, including some selected surgical procedures.

Click on the links below to see current data and trend graphs for Saskatchewan's performance against each of the pan Canadian benchmarks for surgery.

Check this interactive tool provided by the Canadian Institute for Healthcare Information (CIHI) to see Saskatchewan's performance compared to other provinces.

Radiation therapy is the responsibility of the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency. Information on the benchmark "radiation therapy within four weeks of being ready to treat" is available on the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency website.

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