Saskatoon and Regina fall short of surgery goals

Saskatchewan's two largest health regions — Saskatoon and Regina — will not meet the goals set by the province to reduce wait times for surgery.

Saskatchewan's two largest health regions — Saskatoon and Regina — will not meet the goals set by the province to reduce wait times for surgery.

The government set a goal to ensure everyone who needed surgery would not have to wait more than three months for their procedure. That target was supposed to be achieved by March of 2014.

However, according to officials the most recent figures show 79 per cent of patients spend fewer than three months on a waiting list. That is an improvement, but short of the goal.

The numbers show there are 4,796 patients waiting more than three months for surgery, which is 10,555 fewer than when the surgical initiative began in March 2010.

The hold up is in Saskatoon and Regina.

Officials say the Saskatoon Health Region will take until late 2014 to meet the target and the Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region will need another year.

According to officials, Saskatoon had planned for more surgeries, but demand rose more than expected last year. One of their strategies to achieve their target is to increase the number of surgeries provided by a private-sector contractor.

The statistics are from the end of November, 2013.

Health Minister Dustin Duncan says it took a monumental effort by surgical teams, patient advisers and health region administrators to cut down the wait times.

"We have made incredible progress toward sooner, safer and smarter surgical care," Duncan said in a news release issued Thursday. "The tremendous strides we have made to date will continue."

With files from The Canadian Press

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