The CEO of the Fraser Health Authority says NDP health critic Adrian Dix is misleading the public about the prospect of cuts to health-care services, based on leaked documents.
Dr. Nigel Murray said the papers quoted by Dix are only planning documents, and no decisions have been made on any suggested cuts to services, hospital beds, operating rooms or programs.
"That's a really good example … of where this kind of information in the public domain — which is a draft document — is totally misleading. In fact, we have no intention of cutting 200 beds. In fact, Fraser Health is building beds as fast as we can," said Murray.
Cost-sharing and administrative efficiencies are the first place the health authority will look for savings, but cuts to services can't be ruled out, said Murray.
Documents point to cuts: Dix
On Monday, Dix released internal documents that say the Fraser Health Authority is considering deep cuts to make up for a $160-million deficit by closing 5½ operating rooms, downgrading the emergency room at Mission Memorial Hospital, closing diabetes programs in Delta and Mission and cutting 200 acute care beds.
Dix said the documents are evidence the B.C. Liberal government knew about the looming deficits before last May's provincial election. Following the election, Health Minister Kevin Falcon told the province's regional health authorities they would have to cut an estimated $360 million in spending plans to stick within their budgets for the year.
The current B.C. health-care budget of about $15.7 billion is expected to climb by more than $2 billion by 2011, an increase of 87 per cent since 2001, according to ministry officials.