The Saskatchewan Government said that it's working with a private health-care centre in Calgary, Alberta, Canadian Surgical Solutions, to provide hip and knee surgeries for residents of Saskatchewan.
The province has released an agreement outlining plans to spend up to six-million dollars to cover the cost of the out-of-province surgeries.
Discover Weyburn originally reached out to Health Minister Paul Merriman, who provided a written statement stating their their government is pursuing all options to improve access to joint replacement surgeries for Saskatchewan patients.
"To this end, the Ministry of Health has reached an agreement to accommodate up to 250 publicly funded joint replacement surgeries for eligible Saskatchewan patients at a chartered surgical facility in Calgary, Alberta. This is a temporary solution that will help long-waiting patients regain their quality of life while we continue to increase surgical capacity within our province."
Minister Merriman went on to say that the out-of-province surgical partnership began this week and will accommodate up to 20 patients per month.
"Eligible patients who have been waiting the longest will be contacted directly by the Saskatchewan Health Authority for a screening process and to confirm interest in the program. To safely undergo these procedures outside of a hospital setting, patients must be assessed as low risk."
The Government of Saskatchewan will cover the clinical costs and professional fees associated with performing these procedures, but the cost of travel and accommodations are the responsibility of the patient. Participation in the program is voluntary and patients can reconsider their participation at any time.
Minister Merriman stated that Saskatchewan is making a record investment of more than $670 million in 2023-24 to support the surgical program.
"This is an increase of $42.5 million over 2022-23 and will support the completion of a record 103,000 surgeries in 2023-24, reducing the waitlist to pre-pandemic levels by March 31, 2024, one year earlier than originally anticipated."
"Key strategies to add surgical capacity within the provincial health system include investment to support additional hiring and training for key positions and planning for a stand-alone orthopedic surgical centre for Saskatchewan. A Request for Proposals for this surgical centre was issued last fall and contract negotiations are currently underway."
In a statement, CUPE Local 5430, Saskatchewan's largest health-care union, said there is little evidence that paying private clinics reduces wait times.