After funding cuts, surgery wait list grows 50 per cent in six months

As a result of the Sask. Party government's deep cuts to health care, the number of people waiting longer than three months for surgery has jumped by 50 per cent in just six months.

Last week the NDP revealed that the government is cutting $8 million from surgeries in Regina alone. Now, internal documents show that the government knew this funding cut would result in at least 1,000 fewer surgeries in Regina this year.

“It's alarming to see a 50 per cent jump in the number of people waiting more than three months for their surgery,” said NDP Leader Cam Broten. “Our surgeons and health care professionals had made good progress in tackling surgical wait times, but now we're starting to go far too quickly in the wrong direction as a direct result of the Sask. Party's cuts. I cannot understand how the Sask. Party’s priorities are so misplaced that Mr. Wall chooses to cut surgeries instead of cutting all the waste that his government continues spend our money on.”

Currently, there are 2,485 patients who have been waiting longer than three months for surgery in Regina and Saskatoon. That’s an increase from March, when 1,664 people waited longer than three months.

Last week the Sask. Party dismissed concerns that wait lists would grow as a result of their $8-million cut – hiding the fact that has already happened. Earlier in the fall legislation session, Broten revealed that the wait for an appointment with a specialist has increased to 10 months in Regina and 11 months in Saskatoon, compared to less than three months for 88 per cent of patients in 2013.

“From the time a person talks to their family doctor about surgery, the wait for their surgery is far too often well over a year,” said Broten, pointing to the specialist wait time, the diagnostic wait, and finally the surgical wait. “Patients don’t benefit from short-term politics promoting the most flattering number – they benefit from short wait times. Unfortunately, the Sask. Party's approach is all about self-congratulatory spin, instead of delivering real, lasting results for Saskatchewan families.”

Documents from senior officials in the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region show the medical professionals are frustrated.

“The goal has changed from one of growth, to one where contraction of services in order to meet a reduced overall target is the overall goal,” reads one internal document.

The vast majority of Saskatchewan's surgeries are performed in Regina and Saskatoon. While the Saskatoon Health Region is forced to make nearly $42 million in cuts this year, the Sask. Party has not yet explained how much of that will come from cutting the number of surgeries.