Additional hip and knee surgeries to receive request for proposal

The Regina General Hospital is seen in this file photo.

Health Minister Paul Merriman said the provincial government would be putting forth a request for proposal (RFP) for additional hip and knee surgeries this summer.

NDP opposition leader Ryan Meili brought up a Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) report during Question Period Tuesday, which lists Saskatchewan as having the worst surgical wait times in Canada.

“[The report] showed that 43 per cent of Saskatchewan patients get their hip surgeries within three months and only 30 per cent get knee surgeries within three months,” he said. “It’s really disappointing to see.”

Meili said it was concerning to look at the CIHI report, which only captures numbers up to Sept. 2021 so it does not include when hospitals were overwhelmed by COVID-19.

“I’m deeply concerned about what we’re going to be seeing next time we see these numbers and more importantly, just how long people are waiting in pain when they should be getting those surgeries in a timely fashion,” said Meili.

Merriman said the plan to put the RFP forward would help address the surgical backlog in Sask. However, since orthopedics are more complex, it is a longer process.

“There’s the scans, there’s all the bloodwork that has to be done, the actual surgical procedure, the recovery, the physiotherapy if needed after,” he said. “The orthopedics would be the ones that we certainly need to get tackled and that’s why we’re getting this RFP out in early summer.”

Meili said with the NDP’s earlier suggestion of a windfall profit surcharge going towards affordability in the province, there is also the opportunity to put some of the money towards addressing the surgical backlog sooner.

“It’s disappointing that the minister won’t acknowledge the problem to begin with,” he said. We have the worst situation in the country. It’s going to require a greater investment and I don’t see us putting the level of investment required to get us up in time.”

Merriman said he knows there are concerns but said they’re close to meeting their 2019 targets.

“Since Jan. 9 to April 9, we’ve been averaging about 7,300 surgeries, just right around 22,000 total which gets us close to 2019 capacity where we were averaging around 90,000 a year,” he said. “This is a good start.”