More than half a year after the province announced eight new medical positions aimed at significantly cutting wait times for hip and knee replacements in the province, the Nova Scotia Health Authority has told Global News that they are only now being filled.
One of the four orthopedics positions that Health Minister Randy Delorey announced on Oct. 13 as part of a $6.4-million plan to meet national wait time standards has been filled, according to the NSHA.
Two of the four anesthetists positions announced at the same time have now been filled.
“Recruitment began in January and while we experienced a brief delay in commencing our recruitment, we are seeing great interest in many of these roles,” said Carla Adams, spokesperson for the NSHA in a statement.
Despite the gap in time between the announcement and now, the NSHA says it’s confident that they’ll have most of the positions in place by this summer.
“These are highly specialized roles that take time to recruit,” said Adams.
“The start dates may vary based on the availability of individual candidates.”
At his announcement in October, Delorey said the $6.4-million investment and the new surgeons would help 500 more Nova Scotians receive surgery by March 31, 2018.
However, the NSHA says that by their estimates they’ll only be able to get 425 surgeries completed by that date.
“We are making good progress and are continuing our push to perform more surgeries at our various orthopedics sites,” the NSHA said in a statement.
“We expect our progress to accelerate as new specialists, policies, and other elements of our plan are put in place.”
WATCH: Nova Scotia aims to cut wait times for knee, hip replacements to six months
One new orthopedic surgeon and one new anesthetist are expected for both Valley Regional Hospital and Aberdeen Hospital.
The remaining four physicians will be posted at hospitals in the Halifax Regional Municipality.
According to the NSHA, they posted a number of the jobs on their internal hiring website and have received “great interest” in “many” of the roles.
“The majority of these roles were posted on NSHA’s website, however, it was not necessary to post in all situations as we had other recent postings that identified interested candidates,” Adams said.
She added they’ll be sharing more information on the orthopedic surgeon who has been hired later this month.
More funding for orthopedics
Nova Scotia’s 2018 budget, which was revealed on Tuesday, points to the government committing $8.8 million to the orthopedic field in the province.
Budget documents indicate the government believes the funds will allow them to do an additional 350 hip and knee surgeries this year — bringing their projected total to 4,200 orthopedic surgeries.
Additionally, the new funds will help create a central booking system, hire more surgeons and provide rehabilitation to patients.
— With files from Marieke Walsh