Effective April 1, 2019, Dr. Christopher Honey, UBC neurosurgeon, will be increasing his operating time to accommodate 72 Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) surgeries annually, instead of the current 36. Parkinson Society BC appreciates the work done by the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority and the Ministry of Health to make this happen. We are hopeful that this increase in operating room time will allow some patients, who have been waiting for up to three years, to access this life changing surgery.
Although this is good news, the waitlist remains lengthy, and continues to grow, with over a 100 patients approved for the surgery. We request that the Ministry of Health continue to look at options for further reducing the waitlist to a more acceptable six months, which is similar to that of other provinces such as Alberta and Ontario.
In addition to issues with waitlist time, surgery access is a concern as it is only available in Vancouver. This places financial burden on patients who reside outside the Lower Mainland, as they are responsible for covering the cost of repeated trips for assessment, surgery, and weekly post-surgery follow-ups (often 8-10 trips). Patients would benefit most from recruiting additional qualified neurosurgeons and the development of more surgical sites.
We are encouraged by the additional days for DBS added to the upcoming budget (2019-2020) and ask that the Ministry of Health and Regional Health Authorities continue to work on reducing the waitlist to align with provinces that have more reasonable waitlist times of up to six months.
The full press release on this announcement can be accessed at: