B.C. fulfilling Surgical Renewal Commitment: Health Minister Dix

EARLY data from the initial weeks of B.C.’s Surgical Renewal Commitment show significant progress has been made in performing surgeries.

“British Columbians have made enormous sacrifices to keep our communities as a safe as possible from COVID-19,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “As part of this, many surgeries were postponed to prepare our health-care system for a potential surge of COVID-19 patients. In May, we committed to significantly increase the number of surgeries performed beyond pre-COVID-19 levels to keep up with new demands for surgery and complete the surgeries lost to COVID-19. The progress to date is an amazing testament to the tireless dedication of our health-care workers.”

The B.C. Surgical Renewal Commitment was launched in May and is an extensive plan to contact patients regarding their surgeries, focus on patients needing surgery most and who it is safest for, add new capacity, hire and train staff, and complete surgeries.

The Province is releasing its first public update report on the Surgical Renewal Commitment, which covers May 18 to June 25. Progress includes the following:

* 62,744 patients have been contacted to arrange their surgery from May 7 to July 12.

* 52% of the 17,742 whose surgery was postponed, and who have been called, had their surgeries completed by June 25.

* 33,723 surgeries have been completed from May 18 to June 25, representing 91% of last year’s volume.

* Since the ramp-up period ended June 15, 100% or more of 2019 volumes have been completed each week.

* From May 18 to June 25, urgent surgery volumes exceeded last year’s volumes.

* Significant focus on patients waiting longer than two times their target wait time resulted in these patients making up 19.4% of non-urgent surgeries completed during the time period, compared to 10.5% in 2019.

* 97% of the previous year’s operating hours was achieved during the ramp-up period.

* Summer slowdowns will be reduced by 52%. In previous years, surgical activity has decreased during the summer as a result of planned vacations.

* Surgery durations are back to within 6% of where they were last year.

* $815,000 has been provided to Health Match BC to support the recruitment of additional health-care professionals.

* Since April 1, 29 new anesthetists have been recruited.

* Recruitment efforts have also resulted in the hiring of 111 perioperative registered nurses, six perioperative licensed practical nurses, 60 post-anesthetic recovery registered nurses and 35 medical device reprocessing technicians.

“B.C.’s Surgical Renewal Commitment is a massive and necessary undertaking. Our initial progress is significant and encouraging. That progress, in some ways, is an insurance policy against the potential damaging effects of a second wave of COVID-19 and to help us address the 24,400 patients who may be identified as needing surgery. We know that there is a lot of work to do and that we will face setbacks and challenges along the way. We are fully committed to this work to make sure people get their surgeries – we are all in this together,” Dix said.