The province reports most surgeries postponed due to COVID, have now been completed. Photo: Unsplash

The province reports most surgeries postponed due to COVID, have now been completed. Photo: Unsplash

Province of BC releases surgical volume numbers

Minister says British Columbians can help keep the pressure off hospitals

The province has released a progress report on surgeries, showing that surgery volumes are exceeding pre-pandemic levels, and almost all surgeries postponed by multiple waves of COVID-19 have now been completed.

“Our Surgical Renewal Commitment was to deliver surgeries that were postponed due to the pandemic, to book and deliver surgeries that were not scheduled due to the pandemic, and to change the way we deliver surgeries in B.C. to get more patients their surgery faster,” Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, said in a Dec. 20 statement. “In fulfilling this commitment, we’re showing that when surgeries are postponed, patients quickly have them rescheduled, and we’re demonstrating the strength of our B.C. surgical system to overcome challenge to get patients the surgeries they need.”

Due to COVID-19, non-urgent scheduled surgeries were postponed on March 16, 2020, resuming on May 18, 2020.

Since then, additional surgical postponements have been caused by subsequent waves of COVID-19, extreme weather and staff illness.

“What making our surgical renewal commitment taught us is this: With dedication, innovation and drive from all parts of the health-care system, patients got their postponed surgeries,” Dix said. “And we know this, too: If respiratory season and COVID-19 require postponements in surgeries this fall and winter, we’ll quickly get those surgeries rescheduled. Patients will get their surgeries.”

Key to that is the work British Columbians can all do to keep the pressure off our hospitals, Dix adds.

“Getting our COVID-19 and influenza shots, and taking the other steps we know prevent the spread of respiratory illness supports all those who are waiting for their surgery, and the health-care workers who support them.”

As of Nov. 10, 2022:

* 99.9 per cent of the 14,783 patients whose scheduled surgery was postponed during the first wave, and still wanted a surgical treatment, had had their surgery;

* 99.2 per cent of the 3,166 patients whose scheduled surgery was postponed because of the second and third waves, and still wanted a surgical treatment, had had their surgery; and

* 98 per cent of the 6,620 patients whose scheduled surgery was postponed because of waves four and five, and still wanted a surgical treatment, had had their surgery.

Fiscal 2022-23 mid-year surgical renewal achievements include the following:

* delivery of 215,188 scheduled and unscheduled surgeries — 7,663 surgeries or four per cent more compared to the same time frame as 2019;

* delivery of 20,425 urgent scheduled surgeries completed within four weeks — six per cent more compared to the same time frame as 2019;

* delivery of 18,733 non-urgent surgeries for patients waiting longer than two times their target wait — 13 per cent more compared to the same time frame in 2019;

* expansion of operating room hours by 17,796 to 376,399 hours — five per cent more compared to the same time frame as 2019;

* reduction by six per cent of the total waiting-list size compared to the same time frame in 2019;

* addition of 19 new initiatives in health authorities to increase operating room time and capacity since April 1, 2022;

* completion of training by health authorities of an additional 180 surgical specialty nurses, bringing the total trained to 798 throughout B.C. since April 2020; and

* addition of net new health-care staff to surgical services throughout B.C., including 125 surgeons,106 anesthesiologists, 181 perioperative nurses, 80 general practitioner anesthetists and 76 medical device reprocessing technicians since April 2020.

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