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B.C.'s busiest ERs are getting extra funding to develop innovations to speed up patient care. ((CBC))

Fifteen major hospitals across B.C. are getting a total of $22 million in extra funding to fast-track patients through their emergency rooms.

The money follows on a pilot project that helped reduce congestion in ERs at several hospitals in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, B.C. Health Minister Kevin Falcon said in a statement Wednesday.

The hospitals sharing the cash include seven in the Vancouver area and others in Victoria, Nanaimo, Kelowna, Kamloops, Vernon and Prince George.

Falcon said the additional funding will be distributed among 15 B.C. emergency departments that account for almost half of the two million annual ER visits in the province.

The pilot project for the so-called patient-focused funding saw up to 40 per cent more patients have shorter waits at some hospitals last year despite a 15 per cent increase in emergency room visits, due mostly to the H1N1 flu, Falcon said.

The government defines patient-focused funding as a method of tying the money health authorities get to the amount and quality of health-care services they provide.

The money will be invested in a variety of projects aimed at getting patients into a hospital bed or discharged from the hospital within defined target times.

The B.C. NDP has said in the past that the patient-focused program will increase hospital bureaucracy and administrative costs.

Falcon said the emergency room money will be invested in a variety of projects aimed at getting patients into a hospital bed or discharged from the hospital ithin defined target times.