In an effort to ensure timely access to surgery, Island Health is contracting out thousands of day surgeries each year over the next five years.
It has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) seeking a partner to carry out 3,000 to 4,000 day procedures per year over a five-year contract term.
Island Health first entered into contracts with private surgical providers in 2004. Since then, thousands of publicly-funded day surgeries such as hernia repairs have been conducted in private facilities, freeing up hospital operating rooms for more complex procedures.
The cost of a private procedure is comparable to one performed in an Island Health facility.
Surgeries performed at private facilities are publicly-funded.
Patients are not charged.
“We’re just using different facilities to alleviate the backlog,” Comox Valley MLA Don McRae said. “We’re still using public resources to deal with public issues, and it’s under MSP.”
Surgeries are scheduled from Island Health waitlists.
“Island Health is always seeking innovative ways to provide better and timelier access to surgery,” Dr. Paul Whelan, executive medical director, surgical services and heart health at Island Health, said in a news release.
“By continuing to contract with private surgery providers, patients will experience shorter wait times and have their day-care procedure done in smaller, more accessible, community-based facilities without having to come to hospital.”
Does the contracting out speak of a two-tiered health-care system?
“It’s not the patient seeking out alternate care, it’s the public system making the choice. I see it as being different in that regard,” Vancouver Island North MP John Duncan said Tuesday from Ottawa before speaking to the budget in the House of Commons.
“Whatever they do would be within the context of our public health-care system, so the federal interest is really not impacted by how VIHA (Island Health) chooses to do their business.”
Since 2005, Duncan said the federal transfer to provinces for health care has increased six per cent per year — which will be continued for two years.
“Thereafter, we’ve guaranteed it will be no less than three per cent, and more if the economy grows at a rate more than three per cent. But we know that the provincial increase in total health-care spending in B.C. is currently less than three per cent. The federal contribution to provincial health care is higher in every jurisdiction in the country than what the jurisdiction is increasing their total health care budget.”
McRae said B.C.’s health-care budget has increased by about $600 million in each of the last two years. Over the last decade, the budget has jumped from about $8 billion to $17 billion.
“The investment in health care is by far the biggest cost to government,” McRae said. “It’s about 46 cents of every tax dollar that we take in. As the population ages, the costs get more and more.”
The RFP is available at bcbid.gov.bc.ca
• general surgery: hernia repairs, cholecystectomies (gall bladder removals);
• orthopedics: arthroscopies (minor joint repairs), knee ligaments, shoulder procedures, rotator cuff repairs;
• plastics: fasciectomies (muscle/tissue procedures), breast reductions, rhinoplasties;
• vascular: ligation and varicose vein procedures;
• dental: pediatric dentistry procedures.
In an effort to manage waitlists, the RFP seeks providers to deliver 3,000 to 4,000 endoscopies on the South Island and 2,500 to 3,000 endoscopies on Central Island.