Sask. NDP focuses on province’s long wait times for hip and knee surgeries

Saskatchewan’s Official Opposition is hammering the provincial government on lengthy wait times for hip and knee surgeries.

“The fact is that we have been dead last in Canada every single year since 2019. Nearly every year since [Premier Scott Moe] took office Saskatchewan people have been waiting longer than every other province,” said Jared Clarke, the NDP’s critic for rural and remote health, on Tuesday.

Clarke and the Saskatchewan NDP were pointing to new data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

It shows that Saskatchewan had the worst median wait time of any province in Canada from April 2023 to September 2023 for these types of surgeries.

The analysis shows the median wait time for knee surgery in the province was 318 days. That’s nearly double the national average of 161 days and 32 days more than the next closest province, Prince Edward Island, which had a median wait time of 286 days. Ontario had the best median wait time at 94 days.

For hip surgery the median wait time in Saskatchewan is 232 days, according to Canadian Institute for Health Information. That is longer than every other province and nearly double the national average of 131 days. 

Once again, Prince Edward Island is the province with the closest median wait time at 231 days. Once again, Ontario has the best median wait time, with the median hip surgery patient waiting 91 days.

On Tuesday, Health Minister Everett Hindley repeatedly pointed to the $670 million the province put into surgical procedures across the province in the latest budget as a path to lowering wait times.

“If you compare from 2023 to 2022 we are having more hip and knee replacement surgeries completed in Saskatchewan,” Hindley said.

“Is it where it needs to be? No. Not yet. And that’s why we continue to work with our surgical teams to create and provide the investments to support them.”

Hindley said the Ministry of Health has internal targets to reduce wait times and they are going to hit those targets, although he did not elaborate on what they are. 

The health minister said that as of Dec. 31, 2023, the province had completed more than 16,000 orthopedic surgeries in the 2023-2024 fiscal year. Included in that figure is more than 5,300 hip surgeries, he said. The numbers put them on track to complete the most orthopedic surgeries ever in a fiscal year. 

Clarke sounded doubtful, calling Hindley’s commitment and promises “hollow words.”

Sask. extends contract with private Calgary clinic

On Tuesday, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health confirmed that it had extended a contract with a private clinic in Calgary.

An Order in Council indicates the contract was signed with Canadian Surgical Solutions Ltd.for $6 million.

The clinic has been contracted to perform 20 to 25 knee and hip replacement surgeries a month since Feb. 1, 2023. 

On Tuesday the Ministry of Health confirmed the contract — which was set to expire on March 31, 2024, has been extended to September. It will carry no extra cost to the province.

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