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Surgical Waitlist

Access to Surgery

Island Health provides surgical services at eight hospitals:

North Island
St. Joseph’s General Hospital in Comox 
Campbell River Hospital

Central Island
Cowichan District Hospital in Duncan 
Nanaimo Regional General Hospital 
West Coast General Hospital in Port Alberni

South Island
Victoria General Hospital 
Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria 
Saanich Peninsula Hospital in Saanichton

What is a waitlist?

  • A waitlist is a list of patients waiting for non-emergency surgical procedures or other specialized medical care.

What is a wait time?

  • A wait time is how long you have to wait for surgery or a clinical procedure. Your wait time is calculated from when the procedure is booked in the hospital until it is completed.

How do I get my name on the waitlist for surgery?

  • Physicians and surgeons assess your needs and the urgency of your surgery or treatment.
  • Up to 30% of all surgeries performed within our health region are considered emergencies and are performed within 72 hours. These surgeries do not involve a waitlist.
  • For  non-emergency surgeries, the surgeon’s office submits your booking request to the hospital once you are ready, willing, and able for surgery
  • Once your booking is received, your name is placed on the hospital’s waitlist for surgery.

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How are surgery dates determined?

  • In Greater Victoria, surgeons determine the date for surgery based on the patient’s wait time, urgency of the procedure required and the availability of Operating Rooms.
  • At many of our community hospitals, the booking office determines the date for surgery based on when patients were placed on the waitlist and the urgency of the procedure.
  • Surgeon’s offices and hospital booking offices work together to finalize surgical schedules to optimize patient flow and balance availability of Operating Room staff, equipment, anesthesia and bed space.

Do all surgeons have the same wait times for surgery?

  • Some surgeons may have longer wait times because they get more referrals from family physicians or they share operating time in a hospital with a higher demand for Operating Room resources. Some surgeons may perform fewer procedures or choose to work fewer hours during certain times of the year.
  • Information about individual surgeons’ wait times can be found on the Ministry of Health website at https://swt.hlth.gov.bc.ca/
  • If you are concerned about the length of your wait time, speak with your family doctor who may refer you to another physician with shorter wait times.
  • Please bear in mind that some patients choose to defer their surgery, which can affect reported wait times.

What factors affect the availability of Operating Rooms?

  • Operating Room availability involves many factors including the availability of medical professionals, equipment, supplies, medications and bed space. Please note that bed space availability involves time for post-recovery, surgery short-stay, day care, and in-patient clients.

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What influences wait times?

  • Wait times vary for procedures and for hospitals. In addition to the circumstances of the individual patient, wait times can also depend on factors such as:
    • Which specialists your physician refers you to as certain specialists face greater demand for services than others.
    • The capacity of hospitals or health regions to perform the procedure.
    • How fast your community and health region populations are growing.

How is Operating Room availability affected by seasonal slow periods?

  • Seasonal Operating Room closures are part of our planning process. Operating Room time is temporarily reduced during Christmas, Spring Break and July and August. Closing Operating Rooms, jointly coordinated with the vacation requirements of nursing, surgery and anesthesia professionals, ensures more efficient work flow.
  • Wait times for elective surgery may be affected by more urgent cases during seasonal closures. Even so, waitlists are monitored and managed according to provincial wait time targets.

Do all surgeons receive an equal allocation of Operating Room time?

  • No. Some surgeons require more Operating Room time than others depending on their specialization as well as their patients’ needs.

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How is available operating time allocated?

  • Our Surgical Services Program is responsible for allocating Operating Room time between surgical divisions, such as urology, orthopedic, pediatric, etc. Physician leaders allocate Operating Room time to the surgeons within their division based on patient need.
  • Our Surgical Services Program works closely with surgeons to provide timely, quality care. Waitlists are continuously monitored to ensure services are provided to those with the greatest need: Operating Room time is adjusted accordingly.
  • Surgeons determine the level of urgency for each patient’s surgery. If your health status changes or if your pain level increases while waiting for surgery, please contact your family physician or surgical specialist to share this information.

What is Island Health doing to address wait times?

  • Our Surgical Services Program staff and management continually seek opportunities for improvement. We are working on a number of strategies to improve patient access to surgery. Specific actions include:
    • Managing waitlists based on patient priority.
    • Temporarily reallocating Operating Room time.
    • Scheduling extra surgical procedures.
    • Providing some day surgeries in private facilities to create more Operating Room capacity within our hospitals.
  • We are testing a new method for assigning Operating Room time based on national and provincial benchmarks and standardized urgency criteria. With this model, a surgeon in high demand may have more Operating Room time. Also, people with urgent surgical needs receive priority over less urgent procedures. This approach increases consistency and fairness for all and ensures Operating Room time is used with maximum effectiveness.

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Where can I find information on wait times for surgery?

  • Please visit the BC Ministry of Health Wait Times website - https://swt.hlth.gov.bc.ca/ - provides a wide range of information on wait times, and other resources, for adult and pediatric patients across British Columbia.
  • We continually monitor and track data to assess how well we meet our service goals. You can view the Performance Measures web page for more information.

Where can I find more information on wait times, patient flow and other performance measures?

  • Island Health continually monitors and tracks data and information to assess how well the organization is meeting its goals and objectives.  View the Performance Measures web page for more information.

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