Almost every surgery postponed by multiple waves of COVID-19 in British Columbia has been completed, according to a report whose results Health Minister Adrian Dix described as “breathtaking.”
A mid-year report shows 99.9 per cent of patients whose surgeries were postponed during the first wave of COVID-19 have now had their procedure, while 99.2 per cent of surgeries stalled by the second or third waves of the virus have also been completed, Dix said Monday at a news conference.
The report on surgery volumes demonstrates the strength of B.C.’s surgical system despite facing the ongoing challenges of COVID-19, the overdose crisis and the current flu outbreak, he said.
“Prior to COVID-19 we had about 92,000 people on wait-lists, and we actually reduced the number of people on wait lists, in a pandemic,” said Dix. “This is breathtaking, this kind of achievement of the health-care system.”
He said the New Democrat government’s surgical renewal commitment involved delivering surgeries that were postponed due to the pandemic, and booking and delivering surgeries that had gone unscheduled.
The commitment also aimed to change the way the province delivers surgeries to provide faster service for patients, Dix said.
The surgery report comes as the government faces ongoing criticism about long wait times at hospitals; shortages of doctors, nurses and paramedics; and too few family doctors for B.C. residents.
The report says that as of last month, 99.9 per cent of the 14,783 patients whose surgery was postponed during the first COVID-19 wave have had their procedure.
It says 99.2 per cent of 3,166 patients whose scheduled surgery was postponed because of COVID-19’s second and third waves have had their surgery, and 98 per cent of the 6,620 patients whose scheduled surgery was postponed because of waves four and five have also had their surgery.
Dix said the numbers were achieved by increasing the numbers of operations, extending operating room hours and adding more surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses and medical processing technologists.
The report cites the addition of 125 surgeons, 106 anesthesiologists, 181 perioperative nurses, 80 general practitioner anesthetists and 76 medical device reprocessing technicians since April 2020.
Dix said the improving surgery numbers are continuing this year.
“This will be another record year for surgeries in B.C., and that includes the present period in October and November,” he said. “We have never seen as many surgeries completed in B.C. as we’ve seen in these months in spite of the extraordinary things facing our public health-care system.”
—Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press