Surgical wait lists more than double since March

The number of people waiting more than three months for surgery has increased 115 per cent since the Sask. Party cut the surgical budget in March, and the number of people waiting longer than six months is up 131 per cent.

Those are the numbers from the government’s own Saskatchewan Surgical Initiative website. In March, the Sask. Party cut the budget for surgeries, deciding to do thousands fewer procedures this year, and health care has been further strained by cuts and layoffs since then.

“The province made some progress while times were good, but now that times are tight, we can’t trust them with surgeries. It’s the first place they made cuts,” said NDP Leader Cam Broten. “It’s shocking that they’re still blowing millions on the Lean program, but are cutting the things that really matter to patients and families.”

At the end of December, there were 3,650 patients who had been waiting longer than three months for surgery, and 980 patients who had already waited longer than six months. That’s more than double the 1,693 patients that were waiting longer than three months in March, and the 423 waiting longer than six months.

The biggest increases are in Regina and Saskatoon, where most complex surgeries are performed. The increase in people waiting longer than three months in Regina is up nearly 200 per cent while the number of people waiting longer than six months is up 345 per cent.

“I’m hearing more and more frustration from people who are waiting longer. They’re frustrated, in pain and struggling to understand why the surgical budget is one of the first places the Sask. Party went to make cuts,” said Broten. “Brad Wall promised to eliminate emergency room wait times, and broke that promise. Wait times are as bad or worse than ever. He promised we’d wait no longer than seven days for specialist appointments, and broke that promise. We’re waiting nearly 300 days, on average.

“We need a government that has its priorities in order, because instead of having so many senior managers, we need more people delivering care at bedsides. Instead of more of the Lean program, we need more capacity for surgeries in our hospitals. The cuts to health care are wrong, they don’t match Saskatchewan families’ priorities, and they have to stop.”