British Columbia

ER doctors declare emergency in B.C. hospitals

$10 million required to ease pressure in many B.C. emergency rooms, doctors say

Doctors from across the province say 19 of the busiest emergency rooms have chronic shortages, resulting in stretched staffing and poor patient care.

The emergency room doctors have aired their grievances on a website, calling for $10 million in extra funding from the province.

Alec Ritchie, a doctor at Lions Gate Hospital in Vancouver, says patients can wait for hours to get care.

"Sometimes I walk down a hall and there are patients in the hall and I can feel their eyes on me," Ritchie said. "I know they are saying, 'Is it my turn next?' I don't have the heart to tell them it's not minutes, it's hours."

Jodi Turner, a doctor at East Kootenay Regional Hospital, says emergency rooms are "overwhelmed."

"This situation is a province-wide situation," she said.

The last time the B.C. Government directly increased funding to emergency rooms was in 2010.

B.C.'s Health Minister Margaret McDiarmid said the province just negotiated a funding agreement with B.C. doctors.

"To remove $10 million from another area would be very difficult when we just have negotiated this physician master agreement," McDiarmid said.

with files from CBC's Bob Keating