March 29, 2019 1:20 am

B.C. surgical wait times improving for some procedures, but still lag other provinces: report

WATCH: A new report says too many patients across Canada are waiting too long for some procedures. As Linda Aylesworth reports, B.C. is getting better, but still lags behind some provinces. Today's Global News Hour at 6 Health Matters is brought to you by Pharmasave.

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The wait for some crucial surgical procedures is about to be eased for British Columbians — but the province is still lagging behind others.

That’s according to a new report issued by the Canadian Institute for Health Information Thursday.

The report found that 30 per cent of patients across Canada are waiting longer than the recommended wait times for hip or knee replacements, or cataract surgery.

READ MORE: B.C. government promises to cut hip and knee replacement wait times

B.C. is improving, even if it does hover around the middle of the pack, the institute said.

“You have more people receiving their surgery for hip and knee replacement within that benchmark of six months than you did two, three years ago,” Tracy Johnson with the Canadian Institute for Health Information said.

WATCH: (Aired Jan. 15) Report finds B.C. surgery wait list has grown faster than population

Across Canada, the benchmark timeframe for hip and knee replacements is six months, while patients shouldn’t have to wait more than four months for cataract surgeries.

In B.C., 67 per cent of hip replacement patients underwent surgery within the proper time frame in 2018, while 59 per cent of patients were within the benchmark for knee replacements.

Sixty-four per cent of patients for cataract surgery underwent their procedures on time.

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That marks an increase of six per cent and 12 per cent, respectively, for hip and knee replacement patients compared to 2016.

(Cataract surgery patients, on the other hand, saw a two-per-cent decline from 2016 to 2018.)

The report found that B.C. was one of only two provinces, along with Newfoundland and Labrador, to improve its wait times for hip replacement surgeries.

It was also one of only three to improve for knee replacements, along with Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador.

READ MORE: B.C. to increase number of dental surgeries for faster access

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the increases were due to new funding initiatives from the province.

“We are increasing the number of hip and knee replacement operations,” Dix said Thursday. “It was around 14,000 in the last full year of Liberal government, it’s now 19,000 this year.

“Wait times are going down in all health authorities and we are making tremendous progress.”

WATCH: (Aired March 21, 2018) Geoff Hastings reports on the province’s funding for hip and knee replacement surgeries

The province last year committed $75 million towards reducing wait times for knee and hip replacements, which it said would allow for a 34-per-cent increase in surgeries.

Despite that good news, B.C. can do better. Four provinces — Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador — have higher shares of patients receiving surgeries on time.

Those provinces also had larger shares of people receiving knee replacements and cataract surgeries on time than B.C., while Nova Scotia and New Brunswick also posted better numbers for cataract surgery patients.

READ MORE: People with Parkinson’s disease set to receive better deep brain stimulation access

Canada’s three territories were not included in the report.

No province can brag about its statistics, Johnson said — and that’s why it’s important that they share their wait time data with the Canadian Institute for Health Information in order to compare and improve.

“They recognize that they can learn things, and that this is a complex problem to solve and some may have found a better way to do it than others,” Johnson said.

—With files from Linda Aylesworth and Richard Zussman

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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