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Government of Newfoundland and Labrador Taking Action to Reduce Surgical Wait Times

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador will implement all recommendations made by the Provincial Surgical Task Force to reduce the current surgical backlog and surgical wait times in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The Honourable Tom Osborne, Minister of Health and Community Services, made the announcement today during the latest Health Care Action update. Minister Osborne was joined by Dr. Pat Parfrey, Deputy Minister of Health Transformation, and Cassie Chisholm, Vice President – Transformation (Health Systems), Newfoundland and Labrador Health Services.

The task force, which was established in July 2022, has delivered its report with 32 recommendations to the Department of Health and Community Services to reduce the surgical backlog in the province. Recommendations include:

  • Developing a centralized list of operating rooms across the province to match surgical availability with facility underutilization;

  • Repurposing underused beds in personal care and long term care homes for alternate level of care and non-surgical patients who are occupying surgical beds in acute care hospitals; and

  • Exploring and implementing the use of ambulatory surgery centres that are focused on providing same-day surgical care.

Some recommendations, such as allowing short stays in personal care homes to create operational improvements which will also increase bed capacity in acute care facilities, have already been implemented.

In addition, numerous steps have already been taken to help ease pressures, such as same day hip and knee replacement surgeries in the Northeast Avalon region and a team of orthopedic surgeons travelling to St. Anthony to perform surgeries. Work is also underway to add a sixth operating room to the Janeway Children’s Hospital, which will be used to increase pediatric and breast surgeries.

NL Health Services will be adding a dedicated project manager to oversee the implementation of the task force’s recommendations. The department anticipates the remaining recommendations to begin being implemented this fall.

Through regular Health Care Action Updates and the Health Care Action website, residents can stay up-to-date on progress made, and see many of the initiatives that are underway. The website also serves as an informative and supportive platform for health care professionals to learn about the opportunities and incentives to work in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Quotes “We have already started implementing initiatives aimed at reducing surgical backlog, such as allowing people to recover from surgery in personal care homes, which opens up beds in acute care facilities. We recognize there is more work to be done and we are determined to get that work completed. This report has been helpful to ensure we make more improvements and that we have the necessary resources in place."

Honourable Tom Osborne Minister of Health and Community Services

“NL Health Services has already taken action on many recommendations of the Surgical Task Force, and looks forward to continuing to put measures into place to help improve access to surgery for our patients. We are working creatively across the health care system to increase surgical access by identifying capacity, finding efficiencies, and innovating our service delivery. Our goal is to not only reduce the amount of time people wait for their surgery, but also make sure the entire experience is improved for patients and their health care team.”

Cassie Chisholm

Vice President – Transformation (Health Systems), NL Health Services

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