Sask. government announces plans to eliminate surgical backlog caused by pandemic along with expansion of ICUs

If the Saskatchewan government’s latest plan is able to come to fruition, they will have eliminated the surgical backlog caused by the pandemic and achieved a three month wait period by 2030.

Capacity increases for intensive care units around the province was also announced at a news conference Thursday morning.

In order to eliminate the surgical backlog that built up during the pandemic, a target has been set to perform an additional 7,000 surgeries in 2022-23 over pre-pandemic levels.

Volume targets will grow by an additional 6,000 in 2023-24 and 5,000 in 2024-25, according to the province.

The government says they plan to prioritize surgeries that have a higher list of long-waiting patients.

That includes hip and knee replacements, ear/nose/throat, dental and general surgeries.

While they also plan to utilize private surgical clinics to achieve their goal, the province says in SHA hospitals, some of the actions to reduce wait times, will be expanding and optimizing operating room hours and making better use of regional surgical sites.

They also indicated that more surgeries will be done by third-party contracts, that will be funded by the public, with an unknown cost at this time.

There is currently 35,000 people waiting for surgery in Saskatchewan.

When it comes to expanding ICUs, which were severely over run during the pandemic, the province hopes to expand permanent ICU beds from 79 to 90 by June, 2022.

The final goal will be reaching 110 permanent ICU beds.

More nurses and staff will be needed to make this a reality, so the province says to help with that, Saskatchewan Polytechnical Institute increased specialized critical care training spots to 144 this year.

The Saskatchewan Health Authority is also going to add ten high-acuity beds in Regina by spring time, which the government says will also ease pressures on ICUs and assist with patient transition between levels of care.

Thanks to the experiences of COVID-19, the province also hopes to introduce a program that would see people needing ventilators not have to stay in an ICU bed.

As mention there are currently 79 ICU beds in Saskatchewan, mostly in Regina and Saskatoon.


(Files from Blaine Weyland) 

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