The B.C. government says 90 per cent of patients who had their surgery postponed during the first wave of COVID-19 have since had it completed because of the province’s commitment to surgical renewal.
The surgical renewal commitment to patients is the government’s approach to addressing postponed surgeries and meet the growing demand in the wake of COVID-19.
On March 16, 2020, non-urgent scheduled surgeries were postponed to ensure hospitals had the capacity for COVID-19 patients. The provincial government then launched the surgical renewal plan on May 7 and by May 18, scheduled surgeries resumed.
According to Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, the latest monthly report is “a remarkable story of achievement in the number of patients called, surgeries delivered, operating room hours extended, waitlists reduced, and staff hired and trained.”
The government says that, over the past six months, 163,696 patients received their surgery, including 90 per cent of the patients who had a surgery postponed in the first wave of COVID-19.
The Province notes that an additional 7,979 hours of operating room time was added, compared to the same timeframe last year.
Also, 996 more urgent scheduled surgeries and 6,299 more surgeries for patients waiting longer than two times their target wait were performed.
“We launched B.C.͛s commitment to surgical renewal in May. Since then, learning and adaptation have occurred each step of the way. These are significant achievements and our work will continue to build on this progress in the winter-to-spring period,” Dix said.
The government says that as of Nov. 22, 2020, all health authorities completed their calls to 111,584 patients who were on waitlists before May 7, to ask them if they were ready to reschedule their surgery.
The Ministry of Health claims that through these efforts to call patients, standard waitlists have been reduced by 6 per cent since March 31, 2020. The urgent waitlist has been reduced by 9 per cent in the same time frame.
In terms of hiring staff, the government cites the following additions since April 1:
- 33 surgeons
- 32 anesthesiologists
- three general-practice anesthetists
- 305 perioperative registered nurses
- 38 perioperative licensed practical nurses
- 171 post-anesthetic recovery registered nurses
- 173 medical device reprocessing technicians
Additionally, 172 surgical specialty nurses have started their training and 86 have completed their programs since April 1.
“͞Everyone involved in delivering surgeries counts on each of us to stop the spread to keep our hospitals safe and our surgeries possible. Our progress, so far, in fighting COVID-19 and the remarkable achievements in our surgical renewal commitment make it clear: In a pandemic, each of us has an essential role in health care,” Dix said.
The timeline for recovery of all postponed surgeries is expected to be 15 to 22 months, according to the provincial government.
In 2020-21, the government says it has allocated $187.5 million in the first year to support efforts for surgical renewal.