Poor management at the Moncton Hospital is at the root of a heavy backlog of patients waiting to get knee and hip surgeries in the region, says a doctor.
"The problem basically over the years has been a failure to recruit anesthesiologists, the failure to recruit more nurses, to allow more operating rooms to be run, and a failure to secure the hospital beds for the patients," said Dr. Andrew Clark, an orthopedic surgeon at the hospital.
"And these are all chronic problems that have never been addressed.
"Senior leadership and management, managers, have always been aware of these problems, but unfortunately, no one seems to care about it and no one has been held responsible."
Clark is part of a group of doctors at the hospital who have stopped taking on new referrals as they're so behind on treating the patients who've already been referred to them.
Clark said he already has 250 patients referred to him, adding it will likely take more than a year for him to operate on all of them.
We're really not in the position to provide good quality care for our patients until we actually see a change in the amount of resources that have been available to us over the years. - Dr. Andrew Clark, orthopedic surgeon, Moncton Hospital
He said that rather than take on new referrals, patients in the Moncton area would be better off getting treated by doctors from other parts of the province.
"We're really not in the position to provide good quality care for our patients until we actually see a change in the amount of resources that have been available to us over the years," he said.
Clark said the root of the problem is a lack of staff, and an inability by hospital administration to fill those positions, which is a problem predating the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Before COVID, we were running six operating rooms, and we're back up to running six operating rooms, which in actual fact is 50 per cent of the capacity of the 12 operating rooms available.
"And that goes back again to the fact that you don't have enough anesthetists, you don't have enough nurses, and you don't have enough secured beds for these patients."
In an email statement to CBC News, Dr. Nachiketa Sinha, regional chief of staff with Horizon Health Network, said limitations on operating room availability and staffing resources, combined with "significant" demand for orthopedic surgeries, have affected wait times for less urgent cases.
"Reducing all wait times is a key priority in Horizon's new strategic plan, and our staff and physicians are always looking for ways to reduce wait times in all areas across our organization," Sinha said.
"Improving surgical access was also identified as a key priority in the new provincial health plan, and we are working collaboratively with our partners on a number of initiatives to improve wait times."
Average wait times
The Government of New Brunswick has an online portal that provides surgical wait times for different types of procedures depending on where it's performed.
For orthopedic surgeries, nine out of 10 patients waited 595 days to get a hip replacement at the Moncton Hospital and 853 days for a knee replacement.
That's compared to 315 days waited by nine out of 10 patients for a hip replacement and 362 days for a knee replacement at the Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre in Moncton.
Meanwhile, across all facilities in the province, nine out of 10 patients waited 470 days for a hip replacement and 563 days for a knee replacement.
The statistics are based on surgeries completed from January 2022 to March 2022.