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B.C.’s surgical wait list lower than 2020, still 88,000 people

Training staff, buying private clinics expands capacity
Fraser Health operating room, 2000s (Black Press file)

More than 98 per cent of surgeries postponed during the COVID-19 pandemic have been done, and B.C.’s current waiting list has risen from 84,000 to 88,000 since March 2021, Health Minister Adrian Dix reported Wednesday.

Dix’s May 4 update on the surgical renewal program continues to emphasize that the wait list is lower than its pandemic peak in 2020, when the ministry suspended all non-urgent surgeries to focus on COVID-19 cases and reduce in-hospital infections.

Capacity for surgeries has been expanded by extending operating room hours to evenings and weekends, contracting surgeries in private clinics and most recently, Island Health taking over private surgical clinics in Nanaimo and View Royal, the suburb where Victoria General Hospital is located.

Dix said Vancouver Island hospitals are busier than in other parts of B.C., and that trend goes back before the pandemic. B.C.’s population continues to grow, and about 900,000 people do not have access to a family doctor to provide continuity of care and treatment.

For the week of April 3-9, 7,379 procedures were completed across the provincial health care system, which is 395 more than in 2019/20, the ministry reported. All B.C. health authorities are recruiting staff and training for surgical specialties such as perioperative nurses and medical device reprocessing technicians.

RELATED: Island Health buys surgical centres in Nanaimo, View Royal

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