News release

Surgical Wait List Reduced, More Surgeries, Procedures Done Last Year

Surgical and specialist teams across the province are making progress in reducing the wait list for surgery, completing thousands more operations and procedures last year than before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The surgical wait list has been reduced by more than 4,000 people in the last year. Since last August, the number of people removed from the list has been larger than the number of people added.

There were 1,873 more surgeries in the 2022-2023 fiscal year than in 2019-20. As well, 4,863 more endoscopy and cystoscopy procedures were done last year than in 2019-20.

“Our teams are working exceptionally hard in challenging situations, and together, we are gaining ground and getting more Nova Scotians the surgeries and procedures they’ve been waiting for,” said Health and Wellness Minister Michelle Thompson. “We know there is more work to do to shorten surgical wait lists, but we are ready and willing to make the changes and investments needed to keep this momentum going.”

Some of the changes that led to the higher number of surgeries and procedures include:

  • improved scheduling of operating rooms
  • new acute care beds
  • an expanded partnership with the Halifax Vision Centre for cataract surgeries
  • more outpatient hip and knee joint replacement surgeries.

The number of outpatient hip and knee replacement surgeries increased to 1,193 in 2022-23 from 85 in 2019-20. Those patients returned home to recover rather than being admitted to hospital, leaving beds available for others.

More people were also able to get eye surgeries last year. The expanded partnership with the Halifax Vision Centre helped 927 more patients receive cataract surgeries in Halifax last year compared with the previous year. And 1,465 more patients had eye surgeries at Cape Breton Regional Hospital compared with 2019-20.

A new electronic surgical consult referral system was recently launched to make it easier for patients to see a surgeon and check the status of their referral. Over time, the system will lead to shorter wait times and make sending and receiving surgical referrals easier and faster for primary care providers and surgeons.

Providing the care Nova Scotians need and deserve is a key solution in Action for Health, the government’s plan to improve healthcare in Nova Scotia.


Through the commitment and resilience of our teams, our multi-year plan is helping us improve access and quality, make better use of surgical resources, and transform the system for Nova Scotians. We will keep building on these successes to ultimately achieve our goal to reliably deliver high quality care within wait time targets. Dr. Greg Hirsch, cardiac surgeon and Senior Medical Director, Nova Scotia Health Perioperative (Surgical) Services Network

Everyone – from the nursing staff, my orthopedic surgeon and physiotherapists – made me feel confident and comfortable in preparing me for surgery and in my recovery. I had total hip surgery and was done at 10:30 a.m. and by 4:30 that afternoon I was back in my home. Before my same-day joint surgery, I was part of the hip-and-knee clinic, attending two times per week for eight weeks. The physiotherapists helped me learn exercises that I would need to do to support my recovery and made sure I was able to do these exercises before I went home. I could not have asked for a better experience and would recommend same-day joint surgery for those who are able to receive it. Lorraine Barrington, joint replacement patient, Sydney Forks

Quick Facts:

  • these figures include scheduled surgeries in all specialties – such as orthopedic surgeries like hip and knee replacements or reconstruction, general surgeries like gall bladder removal, and ophthalmology procedures such as cataract surgery
  • emergency surgeries are not included in these figures
  • endoscopy procedures use an endoscope or thin tube to look inside the upper (throat, stomach) or lower (colon, bowel) gastrointestinal tract
  • cystoscopy procedures examine or repair tissues inside the bladder using a cystoscope, a thin tube with a camera and light inserted through the urethra

Additional Resources:

News release – Electronic Surgical Consult Referrals Will Mean Better Communication, Shorter Wait Times:

News release – New Endoscopy Room Open at Dartmouth General Hospital:

Action for Health: