B.C. ramps up surgeries as catchup continues on operations cancelled due to COVID

Click to play video: 'B.C. completes record-breaking number of surgeries'
B.C. completes record-breaking number of surgeries
B.C. health officials say more surgeries were done in the last year than any other year in history. Hospital staff have been working hard to clear the wait list of cancelled surgeries throughout the pandemic. However, as Richard Zussman reports, some are still waiting. – May 4, 2022

More than 20 per cent of the surgeries cancelled during the most recent waves of COVID-19 and extreme weather events have still not been rescheduled.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said Wednesday 99.8 per cent of the surgeries for patients who had a booked surgery date and had their surgery postponed in the first wave of COVID-19 have now been completed.

Click to play video: 'Health Minister Adrian Dix on surgical renewal strategy'
Health Minister Adrian Dix on surgical renewal strategy

But the completion rate falls to 96.2 per cent for surgeries cancelled in waves two and three and down to 78.9 per cent from waves four, five and extreme weather events.

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“The progress is exceptional, even stunning,” Dix said.

“Our whole system, considering the circumstances, has performed exceptionally well.”

Click to play video: 'The cancellation of some surgeries in B.C. has left a teenager in a dire situation'
The cancellation of some surgeries in B.C. has left a teenager in a dire situation
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The province delayed all non-urgent scheduled surgeries in March 2020.

Due to continued pressure on the health-care system due to COVID-19 the province subsequently had to cancel surgeries during pandemic waves.

Across the province, 52,216 urgent scheduled surgeries were completed in the 2021-22 fiscal year.

This is a 5.3 per cent increase compared to year one and 7.1 per cent more than the last pre-COVID year, 2019-20.

At 88,365, B.C.’s waitlist continues to be lower than in 2019-20 when there were 93,903 patients waiting – a reduction of 5.9 per cent.

The province was able to complete 34,557 surgeries for people waiting for more than twice the recommended wait time 2021-22.

The number of patients waiting for urgent surgery decreased from 6,865 in 2019-20 to 6,460 in 2021-22.

Click to play video: 'Fort St. John teen finally gets badly-needed surgery'
Fort St. John teen finally gets badly-needed surgery

The waitlist size now continues to be lower than the peak in May 2020.

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“We haven’t seen for the last four weeks any delays for scheduled surgeries,” Dix said.

The province is still attempting to ensure ramping up surgeries is not impacting other pressures currently on the system.

Operation room times have been extended in many hospitals including adding weekend surgeries.

Training for staff has also been ramped up with the province completing training for 400 additional perioperative nurses and 100 medical device reprocessing technicians.

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