McNeil’s promise to reduce hip and knee replacement waitlist vanishes

February 18, 2015

NDP MLA Dave Wilson says Premier Stephen McNeil has failed to deliver on his promise to bring wait times for hip and knee replacements in line with the national average.

“The Premier told Nova Scotians his plan was to reduce wait times for hip and knee replacements beginning in his first year in government. Today we know that promise hasn’t been kept and the Premier won’t say when he plans to make good on that promise,” said Wilson.

Wilson’s comments follow an update on the surgical waitlist provided to members of the Public Accounts Committee this morning by Deputy Health Minister Peter Vaughan. The Deputy indicated the waitlist for hip and knee replacements has remained stagnant.

Last summer, during a review by the provincial Auditor General, the Department of Health indicated it would take $35 million to start completing 90 per cent of hip and knee replacements within the national six-month benchmark. $7.7 million would then be needed to maintain a six-month wait annually.

Today the Deputy indicated the $35 million quote isn’t necessarily what’s needed but won’t estimate new costs until the amalgamation of district health authorities is fully implemented.

“The Premier needs to take his head out of the clouds. You don’t need to amalgamate district health authorities to reduce the waitlist for hip and knee replacements,” said Wilson.

“Under previous governments we were able to ensure the cardiac and cancer surgery wait times were in line with the national average. It took hard work and investments – that’s what the Premier needs to do,” said Wilson.

On Sept. 12, 2013 McNeil was clear that investments, not DHA amalgamation, was the answer to reducing the waitlist. “(Surgeons are) more than ready to deliver the surgeries, all they’re looking for is a government willing to fund it,” said McNeil.