Government misses the mark: waits for surgeries still too long

Saskatchewan patients continue to wait too long for surgery as the government is failing to meet surgical wait time targets, thanks to short-sighted cuts and mismanagement.

The wait-time goal set in 2010 to be complete in 2014 will not be met in Saskatchewan’s two largest health regions, Regina Qu’Appelle and Saskatoon, where the most surgeries are performed.

“The surgical wait time goals are positive, and should absolutely be attainable, sustainable and even improved on once we get there,” said Danielle Chartier, NDP health critic. “Sadly, hospitals are in disarray thanks to this government’s cuts and lack of planning to deal with growth. This government has short-staffing, from surgeons to environmental staff. It’s lurching from crisis to crisis in hospitals, and health regions are constantly trying to cover the gaps left by the government’s funding cuts. That’s all leaving hospitals to run less efficiently.”

Chartier said Saskatchewan families know patients are waiting much longer than the three-month goal. According to the Fraser Institute, this government calculates wait times differently in Saskatchewan to get better numbers. Other provinces calculate surgical wait times from the day a family doctor refers a patient up until the day of the surgery, while Saskatchewan now doesn’t start the wait-time clock until the health region receives the booking form from the surgeon. They also include emergency surgeries in their wait-time averages.

While this government reports a median 8.1-week wait for orthopaedic surgery, it’s actually 36.1 weeks, according to the report released in October.

With wait times for specialist appointments getting longer in Saskatchewan, so is the overall wait before surgery.

The Canadian Institution for Health Information also says wait times in Saskatchewan are getting longer. Fewer Saskatchewan patients received surgery within benchmark wait times in 2012 than in 2011. In all five measured categories Saskatchewan saw a decrease.

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For more information, contact:
Erin Morrison, NDP caucus