October 30, 2019

Government Invests $10 Million To Reduce Surgical Wait Times

Hundreds of Saskatchewan patients waiting for surgery will get their procedure sooner, thanks to $10 million in new funding from the provincial government aimed at lowering surgical wait times.

Approximately 1,700 additional surgeries will be performed before the end of March 2020 to improve health care for Saskatchewan people.  These surgeries include cataracts, hip and knee replacements, gynecological surgeries, dental, and ear nose throat procedures.

In addition, the number of Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI) cardiac procedures will grow by 60 per cent.  TAVI is an option for patients who require aortic valve replacement and are not candidates for open-heart surgery.  Thirty additional procedures will be performed this year, for a total of 80.  TAVI will be available in both Saskatoon and Regina to minimize the need for patient travel where possible.

“I read the personal letters from people waiting for surgery and cardiac procedures, and I assure you that reducing the length of time people wait for their procedures is a priority for our government,” Health Minister Jim Reiter said.  “We are committed to improving wait times, and this investment is a positive step in that direction.”

To meet the March 2020 target, the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) will increase surgical hours in hospitals and also increase contracted volumes with third-party facilities.

“We welcome the announcement of this additional funding to reduce surgical wait times in Saskatchewan,” SHA Provincial Head of Surgery and Fred H. Wigmore Professor Dr. Ivar Mendez said.  “As surgeons, we feel it is crucial to provide timely surgical care to the people of Saskatchewan.  The first phase of the surgical initiative started in 2010 and propelled our province to the forefront of surgical care in Canada, significantly diminishing surgical wait times.  It is our hope that these additional resources will reignite this pathway and that the average citizen of the province could expect timely access to surgery.”

The majority of surgeries will occur in Regina and Saskatoon where some of the longest wait times exist, but will be expanded in other centres as well, including Lloydminster, Prince Albert and Moose Jaw.

Significant improvements have been made to surgical wait times since 2007.  The Saskatchewan Surgical Initiative, introduced in 2010, experienced great success in providing surgical care over a five-year period.

Since 2015, the Ministry of Health and the SHA have closely monitored the number of patients waiting for surgery.  Wait times have been increasing again due to additional patients needing surgery, not due to fewer surgeries being performed in Saskatchewan.