The province is working to provide better access to surgeries over the next two years.
Health Minister Tyler Shandro made the announcement Friday – as the province launched an expansion plan to provide 55,000 more scheduled surgeries in the coming fiscal year starting April 1, on top of the normal pre-pandemic volume of 290,000 surgeries.
“We promised Albertans shorter wait times for surgery and we’re going to deliver. The pandemic has forced us to adjust, but it hasn’t changed our commitment to giving Albertans the best access to scheduled surgery in Canada,” Shandro said.
“AHS, Covenant Health and chartered surgical facilities are already doing more surgeries in some areas. Going forward, we’re going to eliminate the backlog this year and press on toward the goal of the Alberta Surgical Initiative – to provide all scheduled surgeries within clinically acceptable times by 2023.”
Altogether, the province reduced the surgical wait-list by almost 3,000 patients from about 77,000 in spring 2020 to about 74,200 patients currently.
According to a press release, chartered surgical facilities have been ramping up activity since December. Shandro says that as those facilities work with AHS this spring and throughout the year, they will complete 90,000 surgeries each year by 2023, up 40,000 from the current performance.
AHS will issue requests for proposals for additional capacity for ophthalmology and orthopedic surgical services in March and May respectively.
Between April and December 2020, Alberta provided more than 178,000 surgeries, or 86 per cent of the number of surgeries it performed in the same period the previous year, prior to the pandemic.
The backlog of surgeries due to the impact of COVID-19 is expected to be about 36,000 procedures by the end of March and is expected to be eliminated by the end of 2021 at the latest.
Following Shandro’s announcement, NDP health critic David Shepherd said, UCP government’s inaction late last year is to be blamed for delays in surgery for Albertans.
“The significant number of Albertans who have been forced to wait for their surgery or diagnostic imaging is due in part to Jason Kenney’s failure to act as the second wave rose and crashed into our hospital system,” Shepherd said.