A year after non-urgent surgeries were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the latest progress reports show further transformation of the surgical system in British Columbia to get more patients the surgeries they need faster, the Province announced on Friday.
“Last May, we made a commitment to patients,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “We said we would deliver surgeries that were postponed due to the pandemic. We said we would schedule and deliver surgeries that were not scheduled due to the pandemic. And, we said we would change the way we deliver surgeries in B.C. to get more patients their surgery faster. One year after we postponed non-urgent scheduled surgeries, our latest progress reports on surgical renewal continue to demonstrate that the commitment is real, and so is the achievement.”
On March 16, 2020, non-urgent scheduled surgeries were postponed to ensure hospitals had the capacity for COVID-19 patients. This resulted in 32,400 fewer scheduled surgeries representing approximately 17,400 patients who had a booked scheduled surgery date postponed, and approximately 15,500 patients who would have been scheduled for surgery but were not due to COVID-19.
On May 7, 2020, the surgical renewal commitment to patients was launched, and on May 18, non-urgent scheduled surgeries resumed. When patients were contacted for surgery, some – in consultation with their surgeon – decided not to proceed. As of this reporting period, that left 15,373 postponed scheduled surgeries to be delivered.
As of February 4, 2021, health authorities had completed 95% of these 15,373 surgeries.
Surgical Renewal Progress Reports 7-9 cover the period from November 13, 2020, to February 4, 2021.
* 23,502 urgent scheduled surgeries were performed, 1,731 more than in the previous November to February time frame.
* The wait-list size for urgent cases has been reduced by 12% compared to the previous November to February time frame.
* 36,724 non-urgent surgeries were performed; including 5,395 non-urgent surgeries performed for patients waiting longer than two times their target wait, a 36% increase compared to the previous November to February time frame.
* The wait list-size for non-urgent cases has been reduced by 9% compared to the previous November to February time frame.
* The total wait-list size was reduced to 84,075, a 10% decrease compared to the previous November to February time frame and a 16% decrease compared to the peak wait-list size on May 28.
* Operating rooms ran 5,246 more hours over the previous November to February time frame.
* A total of 78,323 scheduled and unscheduled surgeries were completed, 2,337 more than in the previous November to February time frame, including 2,922 more scheduled surgeries and 585 fewer unscheduled surgeries.
* There are now 70 initiatives in place across all health authorities to increase operating room time and capacity. This is an increase of 21 initiatives since the sixth monthly progress report.
* An additional 11 surgeons were hired. Since April 1, 2020, 44 surgeons have been hired.
* An additional 22 anesthesiologists and one general-practice anesthetist were hired. Since April 1, 2020, 54 anesthesiologists and four general-practice anesthetists have been hired.
* An additional 112 perioperative registered nurses, 19 perioperative licensed practical nurses, 82 post-anesthetic recovery registered nurses and 151 medical device reprocessing technicians were hired. Since April 1, 2020, 410 perioperative registered nurses, 55 perioperative licensed practical nurses, 254 post-anesthetic recovery registered nurses and 346 medical device reprocessing technicians have been hired.
* Since April 1, 2020, 274 surgical specialty nurses started their training and 172 have completed their programs.
* A total of 96 medical device reprocessing technologist students are in training.
“Through our surgical renewal commitment, we said we would get more patients their surgery faster, and we are doing exactly that,” Dix said. “We said that within 15 to 22 months, we would catch up on both postponed surgeries and those that were not scheduled and, despite the second wave, we remain on target. When something as critical as surgical renewal is working so well, you don’t pause, you don’t let up, you go full steam ahead. And that is exactly what we are doing.”
In 2020-21, government allocated up to $187.5 million in the first year to support efforts for surgical renewal.