BC’s population continues to grow and surgery wait times continue to get longer, much to the frustration of the BC Nurses’ Union.

According to provincial anesthesiologists, wait times in the province have tripled in length since 2002, with 85-thousand people waiting to have a procedure done at the end of the last fiscal year.

The government announced an investment to reduce wait times for hip and knee surgeries but failed to take into account the number of specially educated nurses required to operationalize the announcement BCNU President Christine Sorensen told MY PG Now.

“So you need nurses, from everyone who works in the operating room right through to the inpatient units in the hospital where they provide care for you following your surgery.”

The topic continues to be a point of contention for the BC Nurses’ Union who says the wait times are morally distressing as they often see patients in pain who need surgery but aren’t able to get it.

Similar to the rest of the province, Prince George’s University Hospital continues to see struggle with the large volume of patients coming in.

“I do know that UHNBC (University Hospital) is severely overcapacity many days and that nurses are really struggling there so if we’re dealing with surgical wait times and surgeries are being promised patients are being cared for in the hallway and patients are not able to be cared for at home when they go home because there just isn’t the nursing staff.”

According to national guidelines, the longest acceptable wait time for surgery is 26 weeks, however, Sorensen states a much more efficient option would be for patients to get the desired procedure done when they need it most.

“I think what we would like to be able to do is be able to provide people surgery when they need it. Wait lists cause patients and they’re families unnecessary distress and often unnecessary complications and pain. So in an ideal world, it would be great if there were no wait lists – when patients become distressed and suffer needlessly nurses are also impacted and very concerned.

To mitigate this long-standing problem, Sorensen would like to see to suggestions come to life.

“One is seeing an increase to specialty education seats for nurses. Nurses at this point from the north often have to travel to the Lower Mainland to get advanced training to work in the operating room and the ICU, some of our specialty areas and we do need to ask advanced education to start increasing nursing seats so that we see enough nurses who are educated to provide care within the facilities.”

“One of the other things that we did propose to the government is that we create positions for nurse anesthetists, it’s often a bit of a bottleneck because we don’t have enough anesthesiologists so we do need to look at utilizing nurses for other areas of care and we really do want registered nurses and our licensed practitioners to work to their full scope and this would be one extension of the nurses role to work as a nurse anesthetist.”

MY PG Now is expected to interview a Northern Health staff member on the health authorities volume of performed surgeries and surgical wait times on Monday.