Poll says BCMA should scrap March 15 - 19 RADs

News release

57 per cent say BCMA reduced activity days should be cancelled to help reduce surgery wait lists

Most British Columbians feel that the B.C. Medical Association should cancel next week’s scheduled reduced activity days in an effort to relieve surgery backlogs. That’s the finding of a poll released today by the Hospital Employees’ Union.

In a province-wide telephone survey of 514 adults carried out by the polling firm McIntyre & Mustel between February 23 - 25, 57 per cent of those polled feel that the BCMA should cancel their reduced activity days to help clear the surgical backlog in B.C. hospitals. Only 31 per cent say the BCMA should continue their campaign of RADs while 12 per cent had no opinion or refused to comment.

Starting in March 1998, the BCMA has withdrawn the services of physicians and surgeons from the health care system on 18 days and may have delayed as many as 15,600 surgeries. The five RADs scheduled for next week could delay another 4300 procedures.

“The BCMA’s tactics to draw attention to their fee dispute with the government are wearing thin with the public,” says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt. “Instead of addressing the longer term challenges facing our health care system, the BCMA has pursued a campaign narrowly focussed on doctors’ incomes — a campaign that’s resulted in increased surgery waits for the rest of us.

“If the BCMA carries out its plan to schedule 52 RADs next year, another 45,000 surgeries may be delayed,” adds Allnutt. “From our perspective, such tactics are counter-productive and will compound the pressures on our health care system.

“Doctors share with other front-line health workers concerns over heavy workloads and overcrowded facilities. It’s time for all the stakeholders in the health care system — doctors and other caregivers, government and the public — to rebuild confidence in our health care system by coming up with solutions to these problems together.

“But the BCMA solution — a $150 million boost to the fee-for-service system — is no solution at all.”

Including weekends, physicians will be unavailable for nine straight days starting today.

The HEU/McIntyre & Mustel poll is considered accurate to within plus or minus 4.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The wording of the question put to survey respondents was as follows: The B.C. Medical Association introduced reduced activity days in March of `98 to put pressure on the government to address their concerns about funding for doctors. It’s believed that this action by B.C.’s physicians and surgeons has contributed to longer surgery wait lists. The Association has scheduled five more reduced activity days in mid-March.

Do you feel these days should be cancelled to help relieve the surgery backlog, or should they continue as planned? Total % Total Interviews (actual) 514 100 Cancel reduced activity days 293 56.9 Continue reduced activity days 157 30.6 Don’t know/refused 64 12.4