Moncton's long surgery wait time to be addressed, says health minister
Working group to be created to look at options to alleviate lengthy waits for hip and knee replacements
Health Minister Victor Boudreau says wait times of almost two years for hip and knee replacements are not acceptable and he sympathizes with the Moncton patients on that wait list.
"There are many causes to this situation that we're facing — aging population is certainly one of them."
Boudreau said New Brunswick has one of the oldest populations in the country and added there is a higher migration of population towards the Moncton area.
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The health minister was responding to concerns from Moncton resident Vivian LeBlanc who is on a wait list for 18 months for a knee replacement.
Boudreau told CBC's Information Morning Moncton's Jonna Brewer there is also a lack of human resources, financial resources and bed availability.
Questioned on why some funds and resources could not be reallocated to Moncton if there was a growing population, Boudreau said it would be looked at to see if it would be possible.
"These are all things that come into play. You can appreciate that there is no quick fix to this. It's not something that you can just throw money at and then it's going to go away, or that you can throw resources at and it's going to go away."
It's going to take a lot of work and effort from the regional health authorities (RHAs), the department and surgeons to work together and try to come up with solutions both manageable and affordable, he said.
"We live in tough economic times and we don't have all the money we would like to have to invest in whether it be addressing this challenge or other challenges within the health-care system."
"Let's not forget, there are 29 different types of surgeries that occur in our hospitals in Moncton and across the province. So hip and knee are but two of 29 different surgeries," said Boudreau as he listed some of them.
Boudreau said the allocation time for each surgery is decided by each RHA and surgeons, not the department.
"They allocate the time as best they can. I'm not blaming them, I'm just saying it's a more complex situation than what some people may realize."
Boudreau said it will always remain the role of the surgeons to prioritize which patient should have surgery sooner than another.
Travel an option
The health minister also suggested patients could check the surgical wait lists in other parts of the province and see if they could have their surgery sooner in another hospital.
"I know that doesn't suit everybody, but for some people, if it's a matter of waiting six months versus 18 months but they have to travel to Campbellton for a couple of days or travel to Fredericton, I mean some people are prepared to do that and that's an option that we provide."
Boudreau said the health department is looking to see what can be done and has requested input from the RHAs and surgeons.
"There's a bit of a working group that is going to be put together to try to find some solutions, some short, medium and long-term solutions to this situation, particularly in the Moncton area.
"There needs to be a particular emphasis in the Moncton area and we're currently looking at how we can address that."
With files from Information Morning Moncton