Improving surgery wait times in Alberta

Orthopedic and general surgeries will soon be scheduled at chartered surgical facilities.

The provincial government is reducing surgery wait times in central and southern Alberta, by expanding contracts to chartered surgical facilities.

Alberta Health Services (AHS) through the Alberta Surgical Initiative is working to schedule 1,250 more procedures in the south zone, including hip, knee, and general surgeries.

Moving orthopedic and general surgeries into chartered surgical facilities will free up operating room space in hospitals for more complex surgeries, a government of Alberta media release said.

“Albertans are waiting too long for hip and knee replacements and other types of surgeries. That’s why we are moving forward with our plan to deliver more surgeries for Albertans closer to their home and within the clinically appropriate period. Alberta’s government remains committed to expanding health-care system capacity and making sure Albertans get much better value for their healthcare dollars,” Premier Jason Kenney said.

“Adding more surgery capacity in central Alberta and communities south of Calgary means more Albertans can get their hip and knee replacements and other types of surgeries sooner and live a better life with less pain and limitations. We are funding more surgeries at chartered surgical facilities and hospitals to fulfil our promise to bring down wait times to the waiting period recommended by medical experts,” Minister of Health Jason Copping said.

AHS is working to increase surgical capacity in hospitals and surgeries at chartered surgical facilities through the Alberta Surgical Initiative.

AHS is targeting about 30,000 ophthalmology surgeries and 6,000 orthopedic surgeries in chartered surgical facilities through the fiscal year.

Main operating room surgical suite hours have been increased at hospitals, which is steadily reducing the surgical waitlist, the release said.

Before launching the Alberta Surgical Initiative in 2019, about 39,000 procedures were performed at chartered surgical facilities. In 2021/22 about 20 per cent of surgeries were performed in the facilities.

Currently, the surgical waitlist is 8 per cent above pre-pandemic levels, with about 73,750 adults waiting for surgery.

“Patients are at the heart of each decision we make at AHS, and we know Albertans want to access care in their communities. These requests for proposals seek opportunities for procedures in rural and regional areas to improve access, reduce wait times for surgery for patients and help Albertans receive their procedure anywhere in the province that can provide the service quickly and effectively,” interim president and CEO of AHS Mauro Chies said.

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