Island Health buys private surgeries
As the pandemic continues to delay surgeries, the province has announced a purchase that it expects will increase surgical capacity in Island Health.
The health authority is taking over the leases and purchasing surgical equipment from the View Royal Surgical Centre, located across the street from Victoria General Hospital, and Seafield Surgical Centre in Nanaimo. These private facilities have been owned and operated by Surgical Centres Inc.
According to a statement from the province, the $11.5 million purchase will add an additional 2,300 surgeries and 2,300 endoscopies per year through greater use of underutilized capacity at both facilities.
Both centres currently perform low-complexity procedures that require a hospital stay of less than 24 hours. The View Royal facility, which opened in 2017, was working under a 5-year, $30 million contract with Island Health and provides 2,500 day care surgeries and 4,000 outpatient procedures each year. The Nanaimo facility currently delivers approximately 2,700 procedures each year.
Island Health entered into contracts with these facilities to move more surgeries out of hospitals in an effort to reduce growing surgery wait times. However, when the contract was originally announced five years ago, BC Nurses’ Union president Gayle Duteil criticized the deal in a Times Colonist op-ed. “Paying for the use of privately owned operating rooms does nothing to address this crisis,” she wrote. “In fact, it will likely serve to increase surgical wait times overall as those specialty-educated nurses working in public operating rooms migrate to private facilities and flee an inadequately resourced public system.”
Surgery wait lists and the time to complete surgeries has steadily increased in the province for the past two decades. In 2019, 40 per cent of waitlisted surgery patients were waiting longer than the federal government’s benchmark “acceptable” wait time of 26 weeks. The pandemic has only exacerbated this issue.
– Capital Daily