Surgeons at work in Surrey Memorial Hospital.

Fraser Health penalized for long surgery waits

Incentive target missed for knee, cataract patients

Fraser Health failed to meet provincially mandated targets to rein in surgery wait times in 2010-11 and as a result lost out on an extra $2.6 million in incentive funding that’s dangled by the government each year as a carrot to improve.

“Although we increased surgery volumes about three per cent, we were unable to shorten the wait times as much as we needed to meet the target,” health authority spokesman David Plug said.

The payments through the health ministry’s patient-focused funding branch rewards health authorities that meet targets to keep waits down and punishes them if they don’t – the money instead goes to reduce the province’s deficit.

The rules require no more than 10 per cent of patients wait longer than 26 weeks for knee and hip surgery and 16 weeks for cataract surgery in order for each authority to qualify for activity-based funding in each of those categories.

But 19 per cent of patients waited longer than 26 weeks for a knee replacement in the Fraser Health region in the 2010 fiscal year, so the authority lost out on nearly $1.8 million, Plug said.

And the authority was docked another $834,000 because 39 per cent of cataract patients waited longer than 16 weeks.

Statistics show 55 cataract patients in Fraser actually waited longer than a year for surgery, so the authority also failed in clearing a separate bar that no patients wait more than 12 months.

On hip replacements, 11 per cent of patients waited more than 26 weeks – just missing the target – but Plug said the ministry agreed that was close enough and credited the authority $1.6 million.

He said the incentive system encourages the region to make its booking and surgery system more efficient, perform more procedures and reduce waits.

Fraser tries not to double book the same patient or keep patients on wait lists whose conditions have changed and are no longer ready for surgery.

“That helps us have a more accurate list and wait times can come closer to the target,” Plug said.

The region also strives to make sure operating rooms have enough capacity to handle scheduled cases and to make sure hip and knee replacements have time reserved.

Burnaby Hospital has emerged as a specialty centre for those surgeries, Plug said, and patients are now sometimes being sent there to avoid longer waits elsewhere.

It’s not yet clear if the region will hit all three surgery targets this fiscal year, which ends at the end of March.

“We’re within 50 or so people of making the hip target,” Plug said, adding Fraser is close to the targets on knee and cataract surgery as well.

Fraser performed 2,400 hip replacements and 15,000 cataract surgeries last year.

Fraser’s surgery wait statistics are considerably worse than in the Vancouver Coastal region, which serves Vancouver, Richmond and the North Shore.

Just one per cent of Vancouver Coastal patients waited longer than 26 weeks for hip or knee surgeries and just four per cent waited longer than the target for cataracts. As a result, that region lost no money.

No cataract patients in Vancouver Coastal waited longer than a year, nor did any on Vancouver Island or in the Interior.

The Northern Health Authority was the only region that performed worse than Fraser, with more than a third of hip replacement patients waiting too long and nearly half of knee and cataract surgeries exceeding the target. Sixty-five cataract patients there waited longer than a year.

The money at stake is not much compared to overall budgets.

Fraser’s penalty last year was less than one-tenth of one percent of its $2.75-billion budget.

Just Posted

German-born British Columbian warns against a ‘yes’ vote on proportional representation

Agassiz realtor Freddy Marks says PR in his home country shows party elites can never be voted out

Agassiz teacher’s Amazing Race takes students on Canada-wide adventure

AESS students say they had the experience of a life time

WATCH: Brother of missing Hope woman makes emotional appeal for more media attention

Next search for Shawnee Inyallie Nov. 18 along Highway 1 towards Boston Bar

Gas price drop expected to hit Fraser Valley today

Analyst says to take advantage, warns slight increase may follow

Players Guild challenges Chilliwack residents to solve classic Agatha Christie whodunit mystery

The Chilliwack Players Guild is performing Murder on the Nile from Nov. 22 to Dec. 2

Trudeau offers to help Pacific islands face climate change impact

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with the leaders from the Pacific island nations on Saturday during the APEC Summit in Papua New Guinea

BC Minister of Agriculture loses stepson to accidental overdose

Lana Popham announces death of her 23-year-old stepson, Dan Sealey

Canadian military’s template for perfect recruits outdated: Vance

Gen. Jonathan Vance, the chief of defence staff says that the military has to change because the very nature of warfare is changing, particularly when it comes to cyber-warfare

‘Toxic’ chosen as the Word of the Year by Oxford Dictionaries

Other top contenders for 2018 include ‘gaslighting’ and ‘techlash’

RCMP bust illegal B.C. cannabis lab

Marijuana may be legal but altering it using chemicals violates the Cannabis Act

1 woman dead, man in hospital after ‘suspicious’ crash: police

Homicide investigators and Burnaby RCMP are investigating the fatal collision

Canada defeats Germany 29-10 in repechage, moves step closer to Rugby World Cup

Hong Kong needs a bonus-point win over Canada — scoring four or more tries — while denying the Canadians a bonus point

Avalanche Canada in desperate need of funding

The organization provides avalanche forecasting for an area larger than the United Kingdom

5 B.C. cities break temperature records

Parts of B.C. remain warm, at 10 C, while others feeling chilly

Most Read