BCHC News Release: Censored document raises questions about Victoria's plans for more private surgeries, says health coalition

News release

Amid reports this week that surgery waitlists have grown by more than 20 per cent since the provincial election, the B.C. Health Coalition today released a document that suggests Victoria is actively pursuing plans to privatize publicly insured surgical procedures.

But the scope of those privatization plans remains a closely guarded secret since the contents of the seven-page Ministry of Health Services’ submission to the provincial Treasury Board — obtained by the BCHC through a freedom of information request — have been severed by government officials.

BCHC coordinator Terrie Hendrickson says the province must come clean with the public about their plans to use private, for-profit clinics and hospitals. “This government has quite deliberately closed hospitals and reduced the number of surgeries performed in our public health care system,” says Hendrickson. “It is little wonder surgical waitlists have grown so dramatically over the last two years.

“But if government believes that privately operated surgical clinics are a panacea for growing waitlists, they’re wrong,” adds Hendrickson.

“The evidence shows that mixing the public and private delivery of surgical services will result in even longer waitlists and higher costs to patients.” Hendrickson says the BCHC has written Minister of Health Services Colin Hansen for clarification of government plans to use private surgical clinics to provide publicly insured services.

“The 74,000 British Columbians who are waiting for surgeries need real solutions — not reckless experiments with private health care.”

The BCHC obtained the treasury board submission in response to a sweeping freedom of information request for a range of documents related to government plans to use private clinics or hospitals — in B.C., Alberta or elsewhere — to provide procedures insured under the B.C. Medical Services Plan.

The request and government’s response are linked to the electronic version of this release at www.bchealthcoalition.ca.

-30- Contact: Terrie Hendrickson, coordinator, (604) 681-7945