Today’s Poll

Union is cautiously optimistic of government’s announcement to reduce surgical wait times

By Contributor
March 26th, 2018

In light of the government’s recent announcements of a new surgical strategy aimed at reducing wait times for hip and knee operations and improving operating room efficiencies across the province, BCNU Acting President Christine Sorensen would like to know more about their plans to staff this initiative.

Last week (March 21, 2018), Premier John Horgan and Hon. Adrian Dix, minister of health, were at Vancouver General Hospital to announce this new strategy to boost surgeries in areas with long wait times. Horgan said the strategy will see five hip and knee replacement programs implemented throughout the province to address the long waits for surgeries people need to enjoy full, active lives.

In an announcement today, the South Island Hip and Knee Program has been established to serve the South Island region in an effort significantly reduce wait times for patients in acute need of care.

Sorensen said the government plans to invest $75 million dollars into this initiative. Considered part of a broader comprehensive plan to improve access to all British Columbians, this will mean a 34% increase in surgeries performed; their goal is to reduce wait times to well within the current 26-week timeframe. While this is excellent news for all British Columbians, the union is concerned that the plan does not take into account the number of specialty-educated nurses required to make this announcement a reality.

“If you’re considering a 34% increase in the number of surgeries performed, I’d like to know what their plans are to recruit and properly staff nurses – everywhere from the operating theatre to the homecare teams necessary to support the best patient outcomes. This is certainly a positive step forward, but requires significant planning to ensure nurses are not being stretched too thin,” said Sorensen.

“In the Jim Pattison operating rooms specifically, there is a history of nurses having to work chronically short, and it is not sustainable.”

Sorensen said the union agrees that there is no doubt that this strategy will significantly reduce the number of patients who are living in pain while waiting for their surgery to come up.

“We are pleased to hear that our government recognizes that surgical wait times in this province are at a point of crisis, however it is important to remember too, that nurse staffing levels are also at a crisis throughout the province,” said Sorensen.

“We have been working closely with health authorities to come up with creative solutions to support the system, but at the end of the day, without nurses, there can be no surgeries. Without nurses, there can be no post-operative care. Without nurses, there can be no community-based care for patients when they go home.”

In 2015, Vancouver Coastal Health agreed to offer nurses a $5 per hour premium to work in the OR in an attempt to address the chronic staffing problems. Weeks later, under the guidance of HEABC, the deal was rescinded.

Categories: Health