Nova Scotia hires 4 orthopedic surgeons to speed up hip and knee replacements

New hires to keep up with increasing demand for hip and knee replacement surgeries in the province. One of the doctors is already in Nova Scotia and three others will arrive some time in the fall.

New hires will help reduce wait times by fall, health authority says

A doctor holds a model of a cementless hip replacement. There's an increasing demand for hip and knee replacement surgeries in Nova Scotia. (The Associated Press)

The Nova Scotia Health Authority has hired four orthopedic surgeons to reduce wait times for hip and knee replacement surgeries.

"Our target is by March 31, 2020, anybody who needs that surgery will have it within the benchmark that is the benchmark for Canada," said Janet Knox, president and CEO of the health authority.

Last year, CBC reported Nova Scotia had the longest waits for hip and knee replacements of Canada's 10 provinces.

2-year waits for surgery

The benchmark for Canada is 182 days, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

According to the institute's 2017 data, 51 per cent of Nova Scotians needing hip replacement receive surgery within 182 days. But some patients wait nearly two years for the procedure.

For knee replacements, 34 per cent of patients in Nova Scotia get care within 182 days. But some patients wait more than two years.

Bolstering existing support

Knox said four surgeons were needed to help surgical teams to keep up with the demand for the procedures. She said the surgeries will take place in Halifax, Dartmouth, Kentville, New Glasgow and Sydney.

"We have surgery for orthopedics happening in five places around the province and so we needed to bolster those teams with these four surgeons, so we're very excited," Knox said.

In a news release, Knox said there were 4.6 per cent fewer patients on the wait list at the end of 2017-18 than the previous year.

Nova Scotia Health Authority CEO Janet Knox says Nova Scotia should hit the national benchmark by March 2020. (CBC)

One of the new surgeons is already working at Valley Regional Hospital in Kentville, according to a provincial news release. Three others will join teams at the Aberdeen Hospital in New Glasgow, Dartmouth General and the QEII Health Sciences Centre in Halifax by this September.

Two of the new surgeons have been trained to do day surgery for hip and knee replacements. Knox said that means some patients won't have to stay at a hospital overnight. "So that's even better for our clients," Knox said.

The government said it's investing $16 million over two years to reduce wait times for hip and knee replacements in Nova Scotia.

Read more articles from CBC Nova Scotia

With files from Emma Davie

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