British Columbia

B.C. anesthesiologists offer $3M for maternity staff

B.C. anesthesiologists are offering $3 million of their own funding to help recruit extra staff to help high-risk pregnant mothers and their babies.
Anesthesiologists say B.C. doesn't meet Health Canada's national standards for staffing dedicated to high-risk pregnancies. (Virginia Mayo/Associated Press)

B.C. anesthesiologists are offering $3 million of their own funding to help recruit extra staff to help high-risk pregnant mothers and their babies.

Dr. Jeff Rains, the newly-elected president of the B.C. Anesthesiologists' Society, says the money is already budgeted for anesthesiologists under a current agreement with the government and could be used for fee increases or lump sum bonuses.

But he says society members have voted unanimously to dedicate the money to help recruit more staff.

Rains says B.C. is the only province that doesn't meet Health Canada's national standards for anesthesiologist staffing dedicated to high-risk pregnancies.

He says the B.C. government's own efforts to recruit staff have failed and the health ministry rejected an earlier proposal from his society to boost staffing levels, saying such issues have to be negotiated through the B.C. Medical Association.

Ongoing controversy

But Rains says both the ministry and the BCMA and failed to find any solutions to the staffing problem and he's urging Health Minister Mike de Jong to work directly with anesthesiologists to address the issue.

The issue made headlines earlier this year when anesthesiologists said a staff shortage may have contributed to the death of a newborn delivered by caesarean section at a Victoria hospital.

However, the provincial government and health authority refuted the claims, saying anesthesiologists rejected an offer to provide a Dedicated Obstetrical Anaesthesia (DOBA) service at Victoria General Hospital because the province wasn't offering enough money.

An external review later found there were no delays in providing anesthesia to the mother.

now