88,365 people on B.C.'s surgery waitlist as officials outline progress after COVID-19 delays

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While B.C. has taken significant steps to address surgical postponements because of the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of people remain on waitlists for procedures in the province.

Officials gave an update Wednesday on B.C.'s surgical plan, which first launched in May 2020 after thousands of non-urgent scheduled surgeries were postponed because of the early impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

That update revealed 99.8 per cent of surgeries delayed in the first wave of the pandemic have been completed, while 96.2 per cent of delayed appointments from the second and third waves are now done. Catch up is continuing for surgeries delayed in waves four and five, and from extreme weather events, with 78.9 per cent completed so far.

"Every surgery, every one, is life-changing for the patient who receives it," Health Minister Adrian Dix said Wednesday.

"Through the dedicated efforts of everyone involved in delivering surgeries and the actions by British Columbians to slow the rapid spread COVID and ease pressure on our hospitals, over 337,000 surgeries were completed in the 12-month period ending March 31, 2022."

Dix explained that figure marked the most surgeries ever completed in a single year in B.C.

Even so, there are 88,365 people on B.C.'s waitlist for surgeries, officials said. That figure is lower than 2019 to 2020, when 93,903 patients were waiting.

Officials cautioned that this year will be "another COVID year," with challenges ahead expected. The Health Ministry said it is working on recruitment to address those possible impacts, but for now, many hospitals in the province remain busy.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.