Liberal insiders manipulating Burnaby Hospital report says NDP
Emails show Liberals appointees blaming health authority for problems, says critic
The B.C. NDP says Liberal party insiders are using "sleazy tactics" to manipulate the findings of a public consultation committee looking at the future of Burnaby Hospital.
NDP Health Critic Mike Farnworth says a committee formed back in April to look at the future of Burnaby Hospital was supposed to be impartial and unbiased, but he says it's been anything but that.
The public consultation committee was formed last spring after eight senior doctors issued a warning of the high number of C. difficile bacterial infections at the hospital.
Farnworth says a series of leaked e-mails show committee members, with strong ties to the Liberals, have been ignoring public input.
"They were setting up a committee to consult with the public, impartial, unbiased committee, and there's a whole series of e-mails show it was anything but," said Farnworth.
Farnworth points to a series of emails, some apparently written by Pamela Gardner, the committee's citizen chair, and a long-time Liberal supporter.
He says the emails shows the committee members are trying to put blame for any problems at the hospital on the chair of the Fraser Health Authority.
Former Liberal president to write report
One email from Gardner says the final report will be written by Sonja Sanguinetti, a former president of the B.C. Liberal Party.
It goes on to say that Sanguinetti feels that a lack of resources at Burnaby Hospital isn't a reflection of the Liberal Government but more of the chair of Fraser Health.
"The report will state the speakers have commented on a need for a new building but a major theme has been the lack of resources and how BH has been the worse [sic] resourced hospital in Fraser Health. She feels this isn't a reflection on the Liberal government but more on the chair of Fraser Health."
"The government hires someone and has to trust they will do an equitable job. It's not the Liberals that force and continue to allow the citizens of Burnaby to suffer."
Farnworth says the emails show how the report is being put together to meet a political agenda, rather than reflect the public input.
"The focus was to ignore what the public had to say and put together a report that met the political needs of the government and it's just sleazy," says Farnworth.
He is also concerned that some of the emails were addressed to Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid via a personal, rather than official government email account.
"The only way you put it on private e-mails is if you want to hide something," says Farnworth.
Health minister denies allegations
Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid denies the allegation of bias or interference.
"I understand why people would be concerned, but I'm not expecting a report that points any fingers or anything like that. I'm expecting something that says, 'This is what we're looking for when the Burnaby hospital is redeveloped,'" said MacDiarmid.
MacDiarmid says the chair and CEO of Fraser Health have difficult jobs, and she believes they're doing a good job.
"Fraser Health Authority will come forward with their priorities for capital, and we really pay attention to that," she said.
The Fraser Health Authority says it welcomes the input from the hospital consultation committee, and that input will be considered along with other community input as the health authority prepares its final report for the ministry.