04/10/2013 08:37 EDT | Updated 06/10/2013 05:12 EDT

Vancouver Hospital Surgical Wait Times Cut By 21 Per Cent

VANCOUVER - Health officials say surgical waiting times at two major Vancouver hospitals have been cut by 21 per cent in the last year.

They also say the number of patients waiting more than a year for surgery at Vancouver General and UBC Hospitals has dropped by 69 per cent.

More than 300 patients have been waiting for surgery for more than a year, but that's down from almost 1,300 on March 31, 2012.

Dr. Bas Masri, surgeon-in-chief and head of orthopedics at the two hospitals, says simple innovations have reduced wait times, including making sure surgeons’ bookings are up to date and patients are treated on a first-come, first-served basis.

Other measures included matching up bigger operating rooms with more complex surgeries and smaller rooms with less difficult procedures, and allocating operating-room time more equally among surgeons based on patient need.

Masri says the hospitals were also able to speed up services under a program in which the provincial government pays hospitals extra if they treat more patients faster.

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