A surgical team at work in Surrey Memorial Hospital.

Anesthesia docs drop threat to delay surgeries

Group could still return to court in bid to authorize job action

Anesthesiologists who had threatened to partially withdraw service this month have struck a truce with the provincial government that ends any risk of elective surgery delays for now.

The two sides were to be in B.C. Supreme Court starting today (April 18) to argue whether a March 30 interim injunction blocking job action should be made permanent.

But on Monday the B.C. Anesthesiologists Society (BCAS) and the health authorities agreed to indefinitely adjourn the court date while efforts continue to resolve the society’s grievances.

“Job action is not something we take lightly,” society president Dr. Jeff Rains said.

“We do not want to put patients in the middle of this dispute.”

The province had warned that any anesthesiologists who took job action could be found in breach of their contracts and sued for extra costs resulting from surgical delays.

Anesthesiologists with the BCAS want to bargain separately, rather than under the umbrella of the B.C. Medical Association, which they say does not represent their interests.

The BCAS is now directly appealing to a conciliator named to Physician Master Agreement negotiations to hear its concerns.

“It was our feeling that we shouldn’t be doing any service reductions while we were waiting for an answer from him,” Rains said.

He said he is now concerned the BCMA and province are working to bar the BCAS from the conciliation process, adding job action could be pursued again if that’s the case.

“That would certainly be an option that we could entertain,” Rains said.

The province or the BCAS can terminate the adjournment on 48 hours notice and return to court to argue whether the injunction should stand.

The BCAS contends a shortage of operating room staff, including anesthesiologists, kept 10,000 surgeries from being performed last year, the largest proportion of them in the Fraser Health region.

Rains said 3,500 more surgeries could have been performed last year in Surrey alone – at Surrey Memorial Hospital and the Jim Pattison outpatient hospital – if operating rooms had not been shut down for extended periods due to a lack of medical staff.

The BCAS argues higher pay and more aid for its members would attract more anethesiologists to B.C.

The province says anesthesiologists make about $340,000 a year with almost none of the overhead expenses of other doctors, whose pay has not risen as fast.

A spokesman for the health authorities said he was hopeful the BCAS and BCMA could come to a common understanding and rejoin the existing negotiation process.

Just Posted

Fraser River First Nations say they aren’t getting their share of sockeye

Shortage is a result of decisions made by DFO, not a shortage of sockeye, complaint says

More funding for Harrison tourism projects on the horizon

Village could see increased funding by 2020

Most cows saved during massive fire on Agassiz farm thanks to fast work of farmers, neighbours

Agassiz Fire Department responded to late night call Wednesday

Risk of thunderstorm this afternoon for Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland

A special weather statement calls for heavy rain and wind over the next 48 hours

Chilliwack steps up to the plate and brings music and dance Provicials to town to prevent lag

Sponsors are needed to help knock the 2019 Provincials out of the park

Video: Flyers new mascot ‘Gritty’ a bearded, googly-eyed terror

The Philadelphia Flyers unveiled their new mascot Monday, and as one would expect of the team that gave us the “Broad Street Bullies,” he’s far from cuddly.

Edmonton cannabis company revenues more than triples to $19.1 million

Aurora Cannabis revenues more than triple in fourth quarter

B.C. pharmacist suspended for giving drugs with human placenta

RCMP had samples of the seized substances tested by Health Canada

Seattle one step closer to NHL after arena plan approved

Seattle City Council unanimously approved plans for a privately funded $700 million renovation of KeyArena

Harvest Moon to light up B.C. skies with an ‘autumn hue’

It’s the first moon after the autumn equinox

Hockey league gets $1.4M for assistance program after Humboldt Broncos crash

Program will help players, families, coaches and volunteers after the shock of the deadly crash

Canada has removed six out of 900 asylum seekers already facing U.S. deportation

Ottawa had said the ‘overwhelming majority’ had been removed

Appeal pipeline decision but consult Indigenous communities, Scheer says

The federal appeals court halted the Trans Mountain expansion last month

Most Read