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B.C. invests $60 million in hip and knee procedures

VICTORIA – B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell (pictured at left) announced a $60.5 million initiative to reduce wait times for hip and knee surgeries while building long-term capacity in the healthcare system.

“We are doing more surgeries than ever before, and our health professionals have made significant progress in reducing wait times over the last four years,” said Campbell. “Since 2001, B.C. has increased the number of hip replacements by 35 per cent and knee replacements by 65 per cent.

“However, the number of new cases continues to grow. These pressures are bound to continue as our aging population gets even healthier and leads more active lives. Clearly, more needs to be done. We aim to reduce backlogs and transform the system so that British Columbians face shorter wait times in the future.”

The $60.5-million wait time management strategy includes:

• A new Centre for Surgical Innovation at UBC Hospital – $25 million in 2006/07 to support dedicated operating rooms to help clear patient backlogs for hip and knee surgery.

• Additional funding to immediately address existing backlogs – $25 million in 2005/06 for health authorities across the province to immediately increase the number of surgeries with a focus on joint replacement surgery.

• A Provincial Surgical Patient Registry – $5 million to create and implement a province-wide patient registry developed by the Provincial Health Services Authority and all health authorities to help better manage the surgical backlog.

• A Research Centre for Hip Health at Vancouver General Hospital – $5.5 million from the Ministry of Advanced Education.

The $60.5-million strategy builds on the success of a pilot project pioneered at Richmond Hospital beginning in 2004 that achieved a 40 per cent increase in the number of hip and knee surgeries. The Richmond project, the first of its kind in Canada, created a specialized unit dedicated to hip and knee surgery that makes the best use of operating room resources and ensures patients are adequately prepared for surgery and post-op.

The lessons learned from the Richmond pilot project form the basis for the creation of a new specialized Centre for Surgical Innovation at UBC Hospital that will:

• Perform 1,600 additional hip and knee surgeries over the next year for patients from around the province. The first two dedicated joint replacement operating rooms at UBC are expected to open in April 2006.

• Support transformation and surgical innovation by working with providers across the province.

• Promote best practices in surgical processes, audit processes, conduct evaluations, and establish triage guidelines for wait-listed patients who may benefit from alternate options for medical treatment.

• Develop a best practices clinical tool kit based on the Richmond pilot project experience and distribute it to all B.C. hospitals to promote efficiency and best use of resources throughout the province.

The majority of hip and knee surgery patients are seniors between the ages of 60 and 79.

Ministry wait list data shows that, over the last 10 years, the rate of surgeries across all age groups, particularly seniors, has been increasing every year.

Surgical wait times are published on the Ministry of Health website at: