80,000 Albertans are waiting for elective surgeries

May 12 2020, 3:43 pm

Some non-urgent surgeries resumed in Alberta on May 4 after being paused on March 18 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a result, a backlog of non-urgent or elective surgeries began to build in the province, with 80,000 Albertans now waiting for non-urgent scheduled or elective surgeries.

As a result, Alberta Health Services (AHS) reduced scheduled surgical activity by an estimated 60% in order to secure resources needed to manage the pandemic.

Urgent and emergent surgeries continued during the pandemic.

“Since the decision to pause all elective surgeries, there have been approximately 3,500 to 4,000 postponements a week, for an estimated total of 20,000 to 25,000 since March 18, 2020,” said a statement from Alberta Health Services to Daily Hive.

“AHS has continued to provide approximately 20,000 emergent and urgent surgeries over March and April during the pandemic, and Albertans are receiving the life-saving surgeries they need, when they need it. This service will continue and will ensure Albertans get the care they need.”

According to AHS, it will take “several months” to safely resume pre-COVID-19 scheduled surgical activity.

“Currently, there are approximately 80,000 Albertans waiting for non-urgent scheduled or elective surgeries and we will continue to scale up surgery safely to reduce this backlog and improve access for surgery for Albertans,” said AHS.

“The plan to resume surgeries is gradual and phased, based on considerations for public safety and using established surgery prioritization processes, ensuring patients that are most urgent, or waiting the longest, are prioritized and will receive their surgery first.”

In the last week, AHS has performed over 1,500 non-urgent day surgeries. Non-urgent or elective surgeries can include minor ortho, urology, ENT, ophthalmology, cataracts and some reconstructive plastic surgeries.

“Alberta has developed an initial six-week plan aimed at increasing scheduled surgery activity to 50 per cent of pre-COVID-19 status by mid-June,” said AHS in the statement.

“Continual planning and a scale up of surgery will occur with ongoing reassessment, with a target of achieving pre-COVID-19 activity level and reducing growing surgical backlog over the next year.”