NDP crit­i­cal about ris­ing sur­gi­cal wait times

Regina Leader-Post - - FRONT PAGE - D.C. FRASER dfraser@post­media.com twit­ter.com/dcfraser

The NDP is crit­i­ciz­ing the Saskatchewan Party gov­ern­ment for steadily ris­ing surgery wait times.

Surgery wait times have been on the rise since 2015, ac­cord­ing to Min­istry of Health data.

Across the prov­ince, 73 per cent of pa­tients had a surgery per­formed within three months, but the num­ber of peo­ple wait­ing longer than that has in­creased by more than 7,000 since April 2015.

Those times are out of line with a pro­vin­cial goal an­nounced in 2009. The Saskatchewan Sur­gi­cal Ini­tia­tive ended in 2014 and had the tar­get of no pa­tient wait­ing more than three months for surgery.

It had suc­cess: there were 11,528 fewer pa­tients wait­ing more than three months for surgery than at the be­gin­ning of the Sur­gi­cal Ini­tia­tive in March 2010, but since wrap­ping up, the num­bers have crept up again.

“What I re­ally see here is a sit­u­a­tion where the gov­ern­ment threw money at it for a pe­riod of time, had less money around, but didn’t make the sys­temic — or in their lan­guage, ‘trans­for­ma­tional’ — changes re­quired to ac­tu­ally keep the wait times down,” said NDP Leader Ryan Meili. “Re­ally what we should be see­ing is in­no­va­tions in the health care sys­tem to get peo­ple ac­cess to those ser­vices, and in­stead we’re see­ing those wait times climb.”

Ru­ral and Re­mote Health Min­is­ter Greg Ot­ten­breit ad­mit­ted there has been a “slight uptick” re­cently.

“We do have a grow­ing pop­u­la­tion and in some ways an ag­ing pop­u­la­tion, which drives up uti­liza­tion, so I think we’re see­ing some of these new pres­sures,” he said, not­ing there was a 2.9-per-cent in­crease to health fund­ing in the pro­vin­cial bud­get this year.

Ot­ten­breit spoke to his own ex­pe­ri­ences in the health care sys­tem in ad­dress­ing re­porters about the is­sue on Mon­day. In 2017, he was di­ag­nosed with col­orec­tal can­cer. He said that from his ini­tial con­cerns over his health to get­ting a di­ag­no­sis, he waited about three months. He said he waited about two more months be­fore get­ting into treat­ment. While he said over­all he was happy with the care he re­ceived, Ot­ten­breit added “all and all, it’s not some­thing you want to wait for.”

Ac­cord­ing to the most re­cent pro- vin­cial data avail­able, from Oc­to­ber 2017 to De­cem­ber 2017, 22,333 surg­eries were per­formed in Saskatchewan. The av­er­age wait time for those surg­eries was 26 days, but 40 per cent of the 22,806 peo­ple wait­ing for a surgery had al­ready waited more than three months.

The prov­ince con­tin­ues to point to its over­all record in gov­ern­ment. Since the Saskatchewan Party came to power in 2007, the num­ber of peo­ple wait­ing more than three months for a surgery is down 41 per cent, or 6,231 pa­tients. The num­ber of peo­ple wait­ing more than six months is down 57 per cent and the num­ber of peo­ple wait­ing more than 18 months is down 87 per cent, from 2,666 pa­tients to 343.

Re­ally what we should be see­ing is in­no­va­tions in the health care sys­tem to get peo­ple ac­cess to those ser­vices.

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