British Columbia

Island Health asks private clinics to handle thousands of surgeries

Island Health wants private clinics to take on up to 4,000 surgical procedures a year in an attempt to reduce wait times and free up operating rooms at hospitals.

Island Health says the procedures performed at private facilities would remain publicly funded

A surgeon and his theatre team perform key hole surgery to remove a gallbladder. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Vancouver Island's health authority wants private clinics to take on up to 4,000 surgical procedures a year in an attempt to reduce wait times and free up hospital operating rooms for more complex procedures.

Island Health currently has partnerships with three facilities on Vancouver Island, but the latest request for proposals from private clinics will be the largest contract.  

Dr. Paul Whelan, Island Health's executive medical director for surgical services and heart health, says demographic changes and population growth has led to surgery backlogs in recent years.

"This is a way of creating capacity without investing a great deal of capacity — in fact, no capital — and it responds nicely to changes in mix of cases and volume of cases," Whelan told On The Island's Gregor Craigie.

The contract would be for five years, and would see Island Health physicians perform procedures such as joint surgeries, hernia repairs and gall bladder removals in private clinics.

Island Health is also looking for providers to deliver up to 4,000 endoscopies on the South Island and up to 3,000 on the Central Island over the same five-year period.

All surgeries performed at the private facilities will remain publicly funded, Whelan said.

The private clinics must be accredited and meet the standards and guidelines set out by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia.

The request for proposals allows the private clinics to provide for-profit surgeries, but Whelan said Island Health patients will take priority.

To hear the full interview with Paul Whelan, listen to the audio labelled: Island Health to send out thousands of surgeries to private clinics


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