The government of Alberta is keeping its commitment to reduce surgical wait times.
The province announced the new initiative on Tuesday, which will provide up to 80,000 more publicly funded surgeries over the next four years to ensure people receive care.
In a release, Health Minister Tyler Shandro says they are delivering on a platform commitment.
“We promised we would reduce surgical wait times, and we’re delivering on that promise. This ambitious plan will mean Alberta will have the best wait-time performance in Canada. Our plan puts the needs of patients before ideology, relying on private and public partners to achieve fundamental system improvements.”
The wait times initiative will also ensure surgeries are provided within time frames set by medical specialists.
The province is following a recommendation from the Mackinnon Report, to expand contracts with non-hospital surgical facilities, many of which already offer safe, low risk surgeries at lower costs.
As more of these services become available, hospitals will be able to focus on emergency situations and more complex surgeries.
The province notes medically necessary surgeries will be covered and fully paid for under Alberta’s public health care plan.
Retina specialist and surgeon, Dr. Geoff Williams says this is great news for Albertans.
“Hospital beds are better allocated to sick, complex or injured individuals. Our surgical centre can help the many others needing eye surgery, but who are otherwise healthy and don’t require admission to hospital. We’re pleased to be part of the solution.”
This initiative will improve and standardize the entire surgical system from the time patients seek medical advice, to when they are referred to a specialist, to their surgery and rehabilitation.
This will include expanding telephone and electronic advice programs so primary care providers can receive timely advice from surgical specialists.
In addition, a centralized electronic referral system will ensure every person waiting for surgery will see the right specialist in the shortest time.
As of May 2019, more than 70,000 in Alberta were waiting for scheduled surgery.
Of that number, close to 20,000 have been waiting longer than four months and only 61 per cent of all surgeries were performed within their clinically recommended targets.