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British Columbia launches renewal plan for surgeries

British Columbia launches renewal plan for surgeries

May 08, 2020

“British Columbians have stepped up to the challenge of COVID-19 by making sacrifices, including thousands of people who have waited for postponed elective surgeries. This has been very difficult for people and their families,” said Premier John Horgan. “But these sacrifices have helped flatten the curve in B.C., and now we can move forward, safely, getting people the surgeries they’ve been waiting for.”

Beginning this month, the Province will launch an extensive surgical renewal plan that will include calling patients, adding new capacity, and hiring and training staff.

“On March 16, we made the difficult decision to postpone surgeries to prepare our health-care system for a potential surge of COVID-19 patients,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “Our commitment is now to get patients through their surgery safely. It is a massive undertaking, but we are giving the same 100% effort to the task that we’ve made to flattening the curve in B.C.”

By May 18, 2020, an estimated 30,000 non-urgent scheduled surgeries will have either been postponed or left on a waitlist due to COVID-19. A further 24,000 patients could also be without a referral to a waitlist. This presents a unique and unprecedented challenge never faced by B.C.’s health system. The demands placed by COVID-19 have meant decreased productivity in operating rooms, meaning fewer surgical cases can be completed in the same time.

The 30,000 non-urgent elective postponed surgeries, combined with the 24,000 new surgeries are a substantial backlog to address. The impact is greater than anything faced by B.C.'s health system.

The actions taken under the plan will ensure the health system can keep up with demand for new surgeries and clear the existing COVID-19 backlog in the next 17 to 24 months. The timeline demonstrates the Province’s ongoing commitment to have British Columbians access much-needed surgeries.

For more information on available employment opportunities with surgical teams in British Columbia:

Anesthesia Jobs
OR Nurse Jobs
PT Jobs OT Jobs Pharmacist Jobs MLT Jobs MRT Jobs MRI Tech Jobs


An except from the B.C. Surgery Renewal Plan:

"Nursing
Currently, there are approximately 2,400 nurses working in operating rooms across B.C. – equaling 1,300 full-time positions. This means we have some capacity in existing staff and can support staff to shift to regular permanent positions. In addition, specialty training for surgical program nurses will be scaled up and accelerated. In order to staff the additional operating room time, it is estimated 400 nurses must be trained. These nurses will likely come from existing staff, so health authorities are well positioned to engage in training right away. Health authorities will also take steps to hire this year’s 1,550 nursing graduates to regular positions, with a focus on surgery as a priority. Re-instated staff who responded to a call for qualified health-care providers from the regulatory colleges will remain active where possible throughout the next 12 months, including over 1,100 nurses and over 600 allied health professionals. These resources can add a needed boost to the health human resources that will be required to sustain recovery efforts in the health system, including surgery. A Commitment to Surgical Renewal in B.C. Page 9 of 12

Other staff supporting surgery
There are many other enabling services that support surgery, such as booking offices, medical device reprocessing, lab services, physiotherapy, housekeeping, food services and more. These staff must not be overlooked when increasing surgeries and will also be increased to match the new capacity. For example, we plan to train approximately 100 new medical device reprocessing staff to manage the new surgical capacity. Surgeons Health authorities must collaborate with surgeons to develop physician staffing plans that consider new ways of working as a team, assess their current physician supply and, where required, recruit additional surgeons. Part of this will include considering new models that involve associate physicians, physician assistants or other professionals where a clear gain in capacity and service to more patients can be achieved as a result.

Anesthesia
The surgical system in B.C. requires the support of both anesthesiologists and general practitioner (GP) anesthesia. Like other jurisdictions, our system has faced challenges securing the needed anesthesiology. A provincial contract is supporting many sites in stabilizing these services. In addition, some recent progress has been made to increase residency seats for both anesthesiologists and GP anesthesia, as well as to open fellowships for American-trained anesthesiologists. We will continue to build on these actions, but surgical renewal, as well as increases in surgery related to population growth and aging, will require more from us all. As such, we will begin a targeted and proactive provincial recruitment campaign to increase anesthesia across the province in local care teams. Now is also the time to look at supplementing anesthesia with alternative models, including anesthesia care teams and nurse anesthesia. Under this plan, we will be working closely with anesthesia to determine the best methods and models to add the required capacity to support our future." 

Read the B.C. Surgery Renewal Plan




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