British Columbia

Vancouver Coastal Health cancels contract surgeries, opens up more public operating space

Vancouver Coastal Health is cancelling surgery contracts with a private health clinic and moving the operations back into public hospital operating rooms, B.C.'s health minister has confirmed.

Private clinic had been contracted to do surgeries such as hernia operations

The B.C. government is cancelling some of its surgery contracts with privately run medical clinics. (CBC)

Vancouver Coastal Health is cancelling surgery contracts with a private health clinic and moving the operations back into public hospital operating rooms, B.C.'s health minister has confirmed. 

The regional health authority had been contracting out some surgeries such as hernia operations to the privately run False Creek Healthcare. 

Staff at the private clinic told CBC News 47 such surgeries had recently been cancelled by the health authority.

The health ministry later confirmed that, in fact, 77 various surgeries scheduled at the clinic had been moved to public operating rooms.

Some will be done sooner than previously scheduled and all will be done before the end of the year, said spokesperson Kristy Anderson.

More operating rooms opening

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix confirmed the surgeries were cancelled because new operating room space was opened up at a local hospital. 

"Earlier this year, I challenged all health authorities to increase their use of existing operating rooms and diagnostic equipment," said a statement released by Dix's office.

"To that end, Vancouver Coastal Health is taking action to reopen operating rooms that stand unused. The first of which will open at Vancouver General Hospital and the second at St. Paul's."

Further space will also be opened up at Richmond and Lions Gate hospitals. The move was enabled by the recent graduation of 43 new operating room nurses, Dix said. 

Despite the changes, Dix said there will continue to be a significant role for private surgical clinics, including False Creek Healthcare, to perform publicly funded surgeries within the health-care system. 

"Each regional health authority — including Vancouver Coastal Health — continues to have surgical contracts with private facilities. I do not expect this to change," the minister said.

New fines for charging user fees

The change comes as legislation prepares to take effect Oct. 1 targeting extra fees charged for private surgeries and other services offered by many of the same clinics. 

Dix announced in April that the legislation will make it an offence to charge extra fees for publicly insured services. It includes fines of up to $10,000 for a first offence and $20,000 for a second offence for anyone convicted.

The issue of billing for private health-care services is also the subject of a long-running legal battle between the B.C. government and Dr. Brian Day, the owner of Vancouver's privately run Cambie Surgery Centre.

With files from Jodi Muzylowski

Read more from CBC British Columbia

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that surgeries at two private clinics had been moved. In fact, surgeries at one private clinic were moved to a public hospital.
    Aug 31, 2018 10:40 AM PT

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