Thursday, May 28, 2015

Plans for Surgical services in Prince Rupert raised by MLA at Legislature Health Committee session

Health care in rural and coastal communities was the focus of discussion on Monday, with North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice raising a number of issues of interest on the theme, all as part of the afternoon session of the Health Committee at the Legislature.

With Health Minister Terry Lake in attendance at the session, Ms. Rice explored a range of topics related to health care and access in rural and coastal communities. Items up for discussion and review on the afternoon included travel assistance, Operational aspects of the Northern Connections transportation system, midwifery issues and maternity issues to name a few.

One topic of some note for the Northwest that came up for discussion during the Monday session, was the nature of a review by Northern Health on the delivery of surgical services across Northern British Columbia.

As part of that overview, Ms. Rice noted that while the paper hasn't been implemented as of yet, some of the recommendations, if put in place, would have an impact on the delivery of services at Prince Rupert Regional Hospital and are of concern to surrounding communities that rely on the hospital for their health care

Among some of her key observations as taken from the report:

The paper, which hasn't been implemented — and I've now been assured that there will be public consultation, should those recommendations be implemented — proposed some pretty dramatic changes on how surgeries would be performed in the northwest. 

Specifically, it talks about a hub and spoke model, essentially removing a lot of services from Prince Rupert and centralizing them in Terrace, Prince Rupert now being one of the spokes. The same thing for the northeast — the same hub and spoke model is proposed. I guess I would just like to put on the record that I as well as many people feel that Prince Rupert is its own hub in its own way, in the sense that it does service a lot of outlying communities, including Haida Gwaii and a lot of aboriginal communities. 

I just wanted to put on the record that some of the aboriginal communities listed in the rural policy framework that we were just speaking of…. It doesn't even list all the communities within the northwest.  The actual catchment area of Prince Rupert is larger than is even documented in the ministry's own records. 

Again, those constituents that raised the issue of this internal report have expressed strong needs, that they would like the Prince Rupert Regional Hospital to remain as such, a regional hospital providing surgical services. I just wanted to make sure that that was identified here now.

For his part, the Health Minister outlined that the review was an external report, with Northern Health taking it under advice for consideration, he advised the Committee that Northern Health would not be implementing any of the findings or recommendations without first assessing if they make sense to the whole health care delivery system.

As well, the Minister noted that Northern Health would also be reviewing the report to determine what is acceptable to the communities affected.

You can review the full exchange on health care from the Legislature record here.

Ms. Rice begins her line of questions of the Health Minister at the 17:00 mark, continuing on through the session until its conclusion at 18:30

A video review of the Committee session is also available through the Legislature's Video Archive (Monday Afternoon Committee C),  the North Coast MLA's contributions begin at 17:00

For more items related to discussion points at the British Columbia Legislature see our archive page here.

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