Work Begins On Improving Surgical Care And Reducing Wait Times

Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Health has begun work with specialists, health regions and provider organizations on a plan for improving the experience of Saskatchewan surgical patients, eliminating the backlog of people waiting for surgical care and achieving the government’s goal of reducing surgical wait times to no more than three months within four years.A surgical care working group, with representatives of the Ministry of Health, health regions and provider groups, has been charged with developing an implementation plan that will be initiated in April 2010. In the spirit of Patient First, patients will soon be added to this working group.

The working group has begun to explore numerous options and opportunities to improve surgical care and will develop its action plan based on those innovations that are most suitable to Saskatchewan’s health system and most likely to return significant results.

The working group will explore ways to improve the continuum of surgical care at each of four stages: primary health services, pre-surgical interventions, surgical patient flow and post-operative care.

Health Minister Don McMorris said there is no one solution to the challenge of reducing surgical wait times.

“Achieving our three-month goal will require a variety of different approaches, all within our publicly-funded, publicly-administered health system,” McMorris said.

McMorris said the Ministry of Health began exploring options over the summer as the initial responses to the Patient First Review were compiled.

“Thanks to the review’s transparency in sharing its initial findings, we knew that surgical wait lists were a top-of-mind concern for many Saskatchewan patients and families,” McMorris said. “Commissioner Tony Dagnone emphasized in his report that this is an area needing serious attention and this government is committed to fixing the problem.”

Dr. Mark O’Grady, a member of the Saskatchewan Surgical Care Network and a Regina surgeon, said now is the time to address Saskatchewan’s surgical backlog.

“In four years, we are likely to see a significant rise in the number of Saskatchewan residents who are 65 and older,” O’Grady said. “The demand for surgeries is only going to increase, so we have a limited window in which to clear the slate of people waiting and deliver on a three-month wait time.”

“The Patient First Review has offered all of us in healthcare a fresh opportunity to hear the voice of those we serve,” Regina Qu’Appelle Health region Chief Medical Officer Dr. Chris Vuksic said. “The success of this commission will be realized not merely in our listening but in our collective will to act. The goal set by the Minister of Health incites regions to focus their wealth of leadership and frontline expertise on a common vision, creating a new collaborative that can hit this mark and enrich our learning for all future challenges.”

“This is only one of several opportunities we have to build a health system that puts Saskatchewan patients and families first,” McMorris said. “We will be announcing further responses to Mr. Dagnone’s report in the coming weeks and months.”


For more information, contact:

Karen Hill
Phone: 306-787-4083
Email: khill[at]
Cell: 306-537-3594

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