(Quebec) Quebec is looking to work twice as hard, particularly to catch up on surgeries that have been pending for more than 12 months, and is giving itself a year to return to pre-pandemic levels. In all operations, Christian Dubé wants to catch up within “two to three years”.
Posted at 12:47 p.m
Updated at 2:49 p.m
Minister Christian Dubé specified the goals of his catch-up operations plan on Wednesday when reviewing his ministry’s budget. The list of Quebecers waiting to go under the knife continues to grow, numbering now about 160,000. Of that number, about 20,000 have been waiting for more than a year, the health minister said.
Christian Dubé announced his intention to start the operations, which have been pending for more than a year, last February, but has not yet presented a timetable for it. No more than for all operations. It is worth remembering that the Legault government failed to meet the targets of its catch-up plan for operations presented in June 2021.
Asked by Liberal MP Monsef Derraji, the minister revealed he hopes to return to pre-pandemic levels within a year, precisely for operations that have been pending for more than 12 months. That level was around 3000 at the time, specified Mr. Dubé. “So are we talking about getting back to that level in April 2023? asked Mr. Derraji. The minister agreed.
“It is a feat to have kept this volume at 20,000 despite the fifth and sixth waves,” said Mr. Dubé, who recalled that thousands of healthcare workers are absent from the network due to COVID-19. For the time being, around 8,900 employees are sitting on the floor because of the virus. Because of offloading, the network performs about 30,000 operations per month instead of 40,000.
For operations that have been pending for less than a year, Christian Dubé hopes to be able to make up for the delay caused by the pandemic within “two to three years”. The plan presented in June envisaged two years for this.
Number of pending operations
- 0 to 6 months: 103,439
- 6 to 12 months: 34,782
- 12 to 18 months: 12,748
- 18 to 24 months: 4364
- More than two years: 3582
- Total: 158,915
In committee, Minister Dubé reiterated his desire to use the private sector in his catch-up plan. The Ministry of Health and Welfare has about twenty agreements with specialized medical clinics for operations. These agreements made it possible to carry out “around 80,000” operations, the minister specified.
“Without these contracts, we would be doing 70% of operations in Quebec while we are currently doing 85%. In addition, this corresponds to 99,000 operations performed since the beginning of the pandemic,” said Christian Dubé’s cabinet.
Mr Dubé gave no further details during the meeting on the measures he intends to propose to speed up the pace, reiterating that the main challenge remains the workforce. “We will bring people back, it’s not a question of money,” he said on Wednesday.
His office later clarified that the “recruitment and development of the workforce” was one of the “principal tenets of the minister’s health plan” and that this “will certainly contribute to the resumption of surgical activity”. Quebec has also reinvested $400 million in compensation paid to medical specialists to reduce surgery waiting lists.