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The Vancouver Coastal Health Authority board should launch both public hearings on its plans to privatize surgeries and an audit of a controversial North Shore cataract clinic when it meets in Richmond later this morning, says the BC Health Coalition.

“It’s unacceptable that this health authority hatches its’ plans to privatize mastectomies, foot amputations and tubal ligations behind closed doors,” says health coalition coordinator Terrie Hendrickson. “It’s a public health care system. Give the public a voice on the future of health care delivery in this region.”

The VCHA’s three-year redesign plan contains no mention of a move to privatize surgeries, and the subject has never been put on the agenda of a public board meeting, says Hendrickson.

In addition, to seeking public input on private surgeries, the BCHC is calling for an independent audit of the Northmount Eye Surgical Centre which has carried out cataract surgeries for Lion’s Gate Hospital over the past four years. This arrangement is touted by the VCHA and the provincial government as an example of how contracts with private clinics can reduce surgery waitlists in a cost effective manner without violating the Canada Health Act.

But today’s Province newspaper is reporting that bailiffs have seized the clinic and that some patients are alleging queue-jumping practices.

Hendrickson says the audit should investigate those claims and include an analysis of the contract’s real costs including those related to supplies, administrative support and legal advice provided by the health authority. As well, the audit should assess the contract’s impact on Lion’s Gate Hospital’s cataract surgery wait lists and on the wait lists of the individual surgeons involved, and review the reasons it was not renewed in March.

“Let’s stop relying on unsupported claims by the health authority that this contract was cost effective and good for patients,” says Hendrickson. “The public needs to know that the health authority is considering all the evidence before gambling away our public health care system.”

Last week, the VCHA admitted that it plans to seek bids from private contractors to perform as many as 3,200 day surgeries currently done at Richmond Hospital.


Terrie Hendrickson, BCHC Coordinator, 604-816-7581 (cell)