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in 2013, Nova Scotians had the longest wait in the country for hip and knee surgeries, seven years after the federal government set aside billions of dollars to improve wait times. (File)

Nova Scotians currently wait an average of two years to get a new hip or knee, but the Liberal government says it will spend $4.2 million to get that down to the national standard of six months.

The provinces wait times for hip and knee replacements are the worst in Canada. Part of the reason is a provincial cap at 2,500 procedures per year to save money, but that has created a long and growing list of patients waiting for the treatment.

Dr. Eric Howatt, head of orthopedic surgery for the Annapolis Valley District Health Authority, sees the suffering first hand. 

"I just finished a knee replacement a few minutes ago that had waited two years and four days from when I had booked their surgery and that's an unacceptable wait time," he said. 

New website shows wait times

Leo Glavine, the Minister of Health and Wellness, said the government will put $4.2 million into the budget to pay for another 600 or 700 procedures a year.

The government is also recruiting another surgeon specializing in feet and ankles.

They're hoping a new website could help family doctors shorten referral time for patients by accessing every specialist in the province. It also lists wait times for surgery, radiation therapy and cardiac services. 

"We know this is going to become a significant part of the future. We do have to work toward operating as one provincial health system," Glavine said Monday. 

Currently, 3,500 people are waiting for joint replacements. 

It will take five years to get the wait list down to six months.

Greg Boone, who speaks for the Cape Breton District Health Authority, said there has been good progress locally in reaching those numbers.

"Our latest information, year-to-date, for people waiting for knee surgery shows that about 35 per cent are being done within the six-month target and almost 84 per cent are being done within a year, so we're generally pleased with our waits," he said.

"However, we know we can do better. We can work towards meeting the six-month target and get as close to that as possible."