Media Contacts

Sage Aaron

Communications Director
Office of the Premier
778 678-0832

Ministry of Health

250 952-1887 (media line)


Surgical strategy

Increasing access to surgeries is being achieved through a four-part strategy, which includes performing additional surgeries, focusing on high-priority backlogs, creating operating room efficiencies and system improvements throughout the province.

1. Addressing backlogs and long waits to catch up to demand:

  • Surgeries with the longest wait times and waitlists will be targeted one at a time, starting with hip and knee replacements. There will also be a focus on expanding access to dental surgery.
  • Once caught up with hip and knee replacements and dental surgeries, the next set of priority surgeries will be determined.
  • To support this, B.C. is establishing new hip and knee replacement programs. The first five open this year — one in each health authority. Dedicated operating room time for dental surgeries will also be added.

2. Perform additional surgeries to keep up to demand:

  • 4,500 additional scheduled surgeries will also be performed, to make sure that for all other surgeries, both scheduled and unscheduled, there is no deterioration in volumes or wait times.

3. Make system improvements to create more surgical access throughout the province:

  • Optimize the use of provincial operating room capacity.
  • Create capacity for additional surgeries by making surgical services run more efficiently – ensuring that the first case of the day starts on time, reducing the time to get the room ready for the next patient, minimizing early finishes and reducing seasonal slowdowns of surgical services.
  • Expand work underway at 11 sites to implement health authority scheduling of surgeries with patients prioritized based on need, providing patients with a single point of contact, offering first available surgeon and active surgical wait list, management and improved scheduling at a further 18 high-volume surgical sites.

4. Support for existing and new staff:

  • Success of the surgical strategy is in part dependent on having the necessary health human resources available to provide services, by way of interdisciplinary team-based care. 
  • The ministry has conducted a provincial health human resource review and identified several professions needed to support the government’s surgical strategy, including: anesthesia, specialty nursing, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and perfusion. 
  • Provide regular and ongoing education, training, and recruitment and retention activities to ensure the province has the necessary health human resources in place to achieve the announced surgical targets.
  • Ongoing reporting and evaluation to meet targets.
Comparing the Richmond Hip and Knee Reconstruction Project vs. new provincial hip and knee replacement program

September 2004–10: Attributes of the former Richmond Hip and Knee Reconstruction Project:

Program efficiencies:

  • Swing operating rooms
  • Bed mapping
  • Operating room scheduling and allocation
  • Standardization processes, equipment, devices, and staff roles

Comprehensive evaluation:

  • Monitoring waitlist management
  • Measuring operating room efficiencies
  • Tracking patient outcomes

Pre-surgical support:

  • Improved patient education

Starting January 2018: Additional attributes of the provincial hip and knee replacement program strategy, building on the success of the Richmond Project: 

Program efficiencies:

  • Dedicated operating rooms for surgical procedures
  • Transfers of surgical patients between sites to prevent delays if possible

Comprehensive evaluation:

  • Comprehensive data analysis and evaluation for operating room efficiencies and waitlist management

Pre-surgical support:

  • Surgical optimization and  supports to improve patient outcomes

Central intake, assessment and triage:

  • Single point of access
  • Standardized referral and assessment
  • Appropriate redirection to non-surgical services
  • First available surgeon

Post-surgical support:

  • Post-surgical nursing services
  • Rehabilitation


  • Support services, community resources, and information

Interdisciplinary team-based care:

  • Team of providers from both acute and primary care

Integration and co-ordination:

  • Timely access to surgical expertise
  • Co-ordinated care and patient communication
  • Active primary and community care involvement