Surgical waits continue to climb

New government statistics show that the number of patients waiting more than three months for surgery in Saskatchewan has jumped by 90 per cent since March.

The Sask. Party cut the surgery budget in March, deciding to do thousands fewer surgeries this year. The wait list has grown fast since then.

“They won’t cut their Lean program budget, but they’ll cut thousands of surgeries,” said NDP Health critic Danielle Chartier. “It’s obvious that patients just aren’t their priority anymore.

“To go in the wrong direction so fast that the wait list nearly doubles in just months is absolutely alarming. At this rate, progress on surgical waits will be quickly wiped out.”

At the end of October, 3,195 patients on the wait list had waited longer than three months for surgery, compared to 1,686 patients at the end of March. The change is a 67 per cent increase in Saskatoon, and a whopping 145 per cent jump in Regina. The November and December figures aren’t available yet, but slow-downs in the number of surgeries performed in those months were planned, according to internal health region documents.

“Brad Wall promised to eliminate emergency room waits, and completely broke that promise. He promised to cut specialist wait times to a one-week maximum, and instead they have grown to an average of 11 months in Saskatoon and 10 months in Regina. Now, the broken promise on surgical waits is leaving more patients in pain longer. We can’t afford to keep going in this direction.”

Chartier said the NDP plan to address health care waits includes moving staff resources to the front lines, cutting back on the Sask. Party’s bloated administration, and cutting the toxic Lean program – that will save tens of millions of dollars every year.

“Instead of having so many managers at desks, we need more health care professionals at bedsides. Instead of more capacity for the Lean program, we need more capacity for surgeries in our hospitals,” said Chartier. “The Sask. Party is running a deficit, and that means making spending choices. Choosing to keep the consultants and managers while cutting surgeries and patient care is just plain wrong.”

The Sask. Party eliminated at least 150 health care jobs in the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region, and cut programs in the Saskatoon Health Region. More staff and program cuts are still expected.