Newspaper article The Canadian Press

B.C. Anesthesiologists Ask to Join Private Health-Care Case, Citing Wait Times

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

B.C. Anesthesiologists Ask to Join Private Health-Care Case, Citing Wait Times

Article excerpt

B.C. anesthesiologists want to join lawsuit


VANCOUVER - A group of B.C. anesthesiologists is asking to join a constitutional challenge of the province's ban on private health care, but they insist they aren't taking a position about whether there should be more for-profit care.

The British Columbia Anesthesiologists' Society, which represents only some of the province's anesthesiologists, has filed an affidavit with the B.C. Supreme Court asking to intervene in a case launched by Dr. Brian Day, a controversial private clinic operator in Vancouver.

Day, who has been openly flouting the law by offering private surgery for more than a decade, wants the court to strike down the province's health-care law, which effectively bans clinics from billing patients for services already covered by the public system.

While the anesthesiologists' society wants to intervene in Day's lawsuit, the group says it has no position on the issue of private care. Rather, the group's executive director, Dr. Roland Orfaly, insists he only wants to present evidence that the public system isn't working and must be fixed.

"There are solutions out there to make the public system more responsive, more accessible and safer for British Columbians," Orfaly told reporters Wednesday.

"The anesthesiologists don't have a position on (Day's) call for more private health care. Even if Brian Day's petition wins in court, 99 per cent of British Columbians will still depend on a public health-care system for timely care."

Orfaly wouldn't say just what his group will be asking the court to do, other than make a finding that the health-care system is broken. He argued surgical wait times in the province indicate the government is failing patients.

The society has recently been locked in a fight with the provincial government over pay and staffing resources.

However, Orfaly said the application to intervene in the health-care case has nothing to do with the labour dispute. As of August 31, 2012, there were 72,331 patients on surgical wait times in the province.

Orfaly's group claims wait times in B.C. have increased by 76 per cent in the past 10 years. Orfaly said he reached that number by comparing the number of patients on a wait list in a given year with the number of procedures performed. …

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