Funding for Surgical Care Flows to Health Regions

April 23, 2012

Saskatchewan patients will receive surgery sooner and benefit from innovations that improve surgical care, thanks to a $60.5 million investment in the Saskatchewan Surgical Initiative.

Regional health authorities (RHAs) are receiving funding that will allow them to collectively complete an additional 4,380 surgeries in 2012-13. About 70 per cent of the additional surgeries will be provided in Regina and Saskatoon. Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region will provide about 1,600 more surgeries than last year and Saskatoon Health Region about 1,560 more. The other health regions combined will do an additional 1,200 procedures. Saskatchewan will provide approximately 86,000 surgeries in 2012-13.

"The Saskatchewan Surgical Initiative has made impressive progress in a relatively short time, and we will continue to support our health system partners as they work to achieve these bold goals," Health Minister Don McMorris said. "This major investment will give patients better access to the high quality, efficient surgical care they deserve."

The funding will be directed to hospital costs such as supplies and salaries, and will also enable improvements that support the surgical system, including:

  • quality improvement and safety initiatives;
  • surgical and diagnostic equipment;
  • renovations to operating and recovery rooms;
  • staff training (eg. operating room nurses);
  • lab services; and
  • expansion of the electronic Surgical Information System to more hospitals.

"This funding will enable us to provide patients with safer, smarter care, which is just as important as doing more surgeries," Surgical Initiative physician leader Dr. Peter Barrett said. "Our patient advisors constantly remind us how important it is to put patients' needs and safety at the centre of everything we do. Promoting the use of surgical safety checklists, introducing medication reconciliation programs, and using streamlined clinical pathways are just some of the ways we are building a sustainable surgical care system that's better for patients."

The Surgical Initiative's goals are to improve surgical patients' experiences and by 2014, to provide all patients with the option of having surgery within three months.

New data updated to February 29, 2012, shows that since 2007, there has been a 91 per cent drop in the number of Saskatchewan patients waiting more than 18 months for surgery, and an 80 per cent decrease in the number waiting more than 12 months.

By the end of 2012-13, the Initiative's goal is to reduce all surgical wait times to less than six months. Currently, 99 per cent of surgeries are completed within 18 months, 96 per cent within 12 months, 88 per cent within six months and 77 per cent within three months.

About 21,800 patients are currently waiting for surgery in Saskatchewan, a reduction of nearly 6,000 since the Surgical Initiative began. More information about the Saskatchewan Surgical Initiative can be found at Wait time data is available at

Surgical Care Backgrounder