Doctors contend surgery delays are worse after B.C. government-mandated compliance letters

Dr. Amin Javer and his team perform sinus surgery | James Alexander Michie

Dr. Amin Javer and his team perform sinus surgery on a patient at False Creek Surgery Centre in Vancouver. That is where Mr. Justice John Steeves had his sinus surgery under a contract with Vancouver Coastal Health. But the provincial government has severed contracts between health authorities and clinics that allow patients to pay for their expedited surgeries. ARLEN REDEKOP / PNG

A judge has reserved a decision on a court order on letters of compliance. BC insists that doctors must sign. In this way, doctors claim that surgical delays are worse after the compliance letters required by the BC government

It is necessary to emphasize that patients expect even more time for operations such as the reconstruction of the breasts or sinuses due to the government’s latest repression in private clinics and the surgeons who work in them, according to the sworn statements presented to the court.

It should be noted that currently there are surgeons who only receive four days of operating room per month, which only allows them to manage only 12 to 16 cases per month. Even so, they were performing their Surgical Center surgical procedures. However, last fall the government ordered Vancouver Coastal Health to end its contracts with False Creek because the center was also receiving money from patients who paid the clinic’s facility fees for accelerated surgery. Now, it is important to mention that False Creek is the only private clinic in BC with the sophisticated equipment that doctors need to perform delicate operations.

Long wait

As a result of this situation, there are doctors who have about 300 patients on a waiting list and another 220 waiting for surgery. For what one of them has expressed, “It will take me about four years to overcome my current surgical waiting list”

They have also stated, “There is no subcontracting at all, so the waiting list at the hospital continues to grow. And there is no additional time for surgeons in public hospitals. All the extra time in the operating room they promised us has not happened”

In addition to this, it is important to say that for years, health authorities have paid several private clinics to help due to the delays of scheduled surgeries. But most private clinics also take patients willing to pay out of pocket for accelerated surgery. The NDP government maintains that it is illegal for clinics and doctors to take money from patients for operations covered by Medicare and the government is determined to eliminate the practice.

Last fall, the government introduced so-called compliance letters. Surgeons who perform work in private clinics that have contracts with health authorities must sign statements promising that they will not perform medically necessary work in the public and private systems. If they refuse, they are prohibited from carrying out operations financed with public funds in private clinics that have contracts with the health authorities.

Source: Pamela Fayerman | Vancouver Sun

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