The Province and the BC Medical Association have signed a milestone agreement, which paves the way for 24/7 obstetrical anesthesia services in all B.C.'s tertiary care maternity hospitals to better support high-risk pregnant mothers and their babies.
The agreement is supported through the allocation of $2.5 million in unspent funding from the current Physician Master Agreement between the Province and the BC Medical Association.
B.C. Women's Hospital & Health Centre already has a dedicated obstetrical anesthesiology service in place and the new funding will help support services at B.C.'s other level three maternity hospitals - Victoria General Hospital, Royal Columbian Hospital and Surrey Memorial Hospital. A dedicated obstetrical anesthesiology service ensures that at least one specialist anesthesiologist is on site at all times for the provision of obstetrical anesthesia services.
The additional funding, combined with the current fee-for-service structure for obstetrical anesthesia services, will provide health authorities with the flexibility to work at a local level to ensure 24/7 coverage and determine the specific services available to support patients at all times. Health authorities will have the ability to work directly with existing anesthesiologists to ensure 24/7 coverage, or to hire additional anesthesiologists, if necessary.
The specific funding breakdown is to be determined, but will be distributed based on the current level of fee-for-service income for obstetrics at each hospital site. Compensation levels will be comparable to those for anesthesiologists at B.C. Women's Hospital & Health Centre who perform the similar obstetrical work.
This new $2.5 million in funding is made up entirely of unspent public tax dollars. Last week the B.C. Anesthesiologists' Society suggested they would commit $3 million of their own funding to help recruit extra staff and to support mothers and babies. However, they have yet to submit any formal proposal or explain where the funding would come from. Government looks forward to hearing more details on this funding from the society.
- In 2009, the Province committed $18.6 million of funding over three years toward an agreement that supports enhanced access to obstetric anesthesiology across B.C.
- According to both the Canadian Institute of Health Information and the Canadian Medical Association, B.C. has one of the best supplies of anesthesiologists per capita in the country with the number of fee-for-service anesthesiologists up 31 per cent since 2001.
- The number of anesthesiologists in the province is affected by new arrivals and departures. For example, in 2010-11 there were 26 new anesthesiologists arriving to the province and 21 departing, for a net gain of five anesthesiologists in 2010-11.
- The most recent statistics from the Canadian Institute of Health Information show that in 2009 B.C. had 493 more doctors, up 5.4 per cent from 2008.
Media Relations Manager
Ministry of Health
250 952-1887 (media line)