Manitoba pumps $5.3M into boosting hip, knee, cataract surgeries, reducing wait times

Manitoba is stepping up the number of hip and knee replacements and cataract surgeries, months after a report ranked the province among the worst for wait times for those procedures.

Health Minister Cameron Friesen announced an injection of more than $5.3 million to perform at least 1,000 more hip and knee replacement surgeries in 2019 — a 25 per cent increase. It will also fund at least 2,000 additional cataract surgeries next year, a 16 per cent increase, he said.

“This important investment by the Manitoba government … will make it possible for patients to get access to these high-demand services sooner,” said Réal Cloutier, CEO of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.

More than 4,100 hip and knee replacements and 12,900 cataract surgeries were performed in Manitoba in 2017-18. However, a report released in April by the Canadian Institute for Health Information ranked Manitoba last for the percentage of people waiting longer than the recommended 16-week time period for cataract surgery.

Patients who received the procedure within that period fell from 41 per cent to 32 per cent between 2015 and 2017, according to the CIHI report.

Similarly, the percentage of patients who received hip replacements within the recommended six-month time period fell from 69 to 53 per cent, while 43 per cent of patients received knee replacements within six months in 2017, down from 64 per cent two years earlier.

“Manitoba patients deserve better health care sooner and that includes reducing the time they wait for priority procedures,” Friesen said Thursday at Concordia Hospital, the main centre in the city for hip and knee replacements.

“As we streamline services, co-ordinate better service delivery and adopt innovative ideas that improve patient care, we can invest in additional hip, knee and cataract surgeries for Manitobans.”

Additional cataract surgeries will take place at Misericordia Health Centre while additional hip and knee surgeries will be performed at Concordia as well as Grace Hospital, the Health Sciences Centre, and the Boundary Trails Health Centre in southern Manitoba.

“The reality is that we are seeing an increased and sustained demand for these procedures as our population ages,” said Dr. Jack McPherson, co-chair with the Wait Times Reduction Task Force.

“We are very pleased the government of Manitoba adopted our recommendation, and believe it will significantly augment the progress we have made to date in completing more procedures and ultimately reducing the amount of time patients currently wait.”

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