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

Up-front price tag for new Abbotsford/Mission water source rises

Consultants suggest shifting $7 million in costs from project’s second stage

Mistrial declared in Jamie Bacon murder plot trial

Bacon was on trial for counselling to commit the murder of Person X

Ruskin Dam project complete, road re-opens over bridge

Bash on the Bridge celebration Saturday.

Abbotsford firefighters knock down house fire before it can spread

No one believed to be inside structure at the time of the fire on Clayburn Road Saturday morning

Inclusion walkway officially unveiled in Mission

Ceremony took place, despite a vandal’s attempt to ruin the walkway with white latex paint

Police say it’s “impressive” no arrests were made after Raptors celebrations

Toronto will play the Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors next

Semis catch fire at wrecker off Highway 1 in west Abbotsford

Crews called to scene at around 2 p.m., finding up to six semis that had caught fire at the wrecker

Social media giants in hot seat as politicians consider regulations in Ottawa

Committee members will also grill representatives from Facebook, Twitter

Wildfire crews watching for dangerous wind shift in High Level, Alta.

The Chuckegg Creek fire is raging out of control about three kilometres southwest of the town

UN urges Canada to take more vulnerable Mexican migrants from Central America

The request comes as the United States takes a harder line on its Mexican border

B.C. VIEWS: Money-laundering melodrama made for TV

Public inquiry staged to point fingers before 2021 election

Canadian homebuyers escaping high housing costs by moving to secondary cities

In British Columbia, exurbs have grown in the Hope Valley and Kamloops

Feds lay out proposed new rules for voice, video recorders in locomotives

Transport Canada wants to limit use of recorders to if a crew’s actions led to a crash

Most Read