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BC’s health care crisis only worsening

Lorne Doerkson’s column to the Free Press
Lorne Doerkson is the Liberal MLA for the Cariboo-Chilcotin. (Black Press Media file photos)

It’s hard to imagine that years into B.C.’s healthcare crisis, we’ve only seen the situation continue to worsen, rather than improve. The NDP government has made numerous promises to address the core problems, but nothing seems to be getting any better.

Just last week we heard the shocking news that nurses at Bulkley Valley District Hospital in Smithers have been instructed to call 911 if their patients are in medical distress since they don’t have enough doctors to staff the emergency room. Meanwhile, family doctors are being told to attend to their patients in the hospital when there are no doctors on shift.

This is a staggering level of crisis in what should be one of the best healthcare systems in the world. And unfortunately, we have become all too familiar with it in the Cariboo. Over the past few years, we have seen numerous ER closures and diversions at the hospital in 100 Mile House, and Cariboo Memorial Hospital in Williams Lake is almost always chronically short-staffed. It would not be an exaggeration to say that this crisis has likely cost lives, not just in the rest of the province, but right here in the Cariboo too.

Healthcare professionals, our Official Opposition, and everyday British Columbians have been calling on the NDP government for action for years now. Yet, other than photos taken at NDP announcements, there is no evidence that government has done anything on this issue.

Premier Eby and Health Minister Adrian Dix can continue to hold press conferences and make promises, but nothing is changing on the ground in our hospitals and clinics. Healthcare workers are still exhausted and overworked, nearly a million British Columbians don’t have a family doctor, B.C. patients are being sent to the U.S. for cancer treatment, and the majority of B.C.’s hospitals remain understaffed.

People deserve so much better. We should be able to rely on our health care system. We should be able to have confidence that quality, life-saving care will be available to us — throughout our lives, but especially in an emergency. But right now, most British Columbians are not confident in the state of our medical system. It has become excruciatingly evident that the crisis is not temporary, and it won’t solve itself.

We need to see a massive effort put into training, recruitment, and especially retention of health care workers. We need to see investment in cancer treatment and medical imaging, and a health human resources strategy with a clear plan, timeline and metrics to achieve success.

It’s the NDP government’s responsibility to ensure that our healthcare system is properly functioning and delivering the medical care that people need and deserve. It’s time for them to put in the work required to keep British Columbians healthy and safe.

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Fiona Grisswell

About the Author: Fiona Grisswell

I graduated from the Writing and New Media Program at the College of New Caledonia in Prince George in 2004.
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