FHA facing $2.5 million in potential fines for long surgical waitlists. Surgeons ordered to reassess patients after 40 weeks to avoid fines
By Jordan Bateman, BC CTF. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) has obtained documents showing the Fraser Health Authority (FHA) has ordered its surgeons to “reassess” patients after 40 weeks as a way to get around provincial government penalties for long wait times.
Under B.C. government rules, hospitals are penalized financially for surgical bookings that remain on a waitlist for more than a year. According to a document obtained by the CTF, the FHA is facing a potential fine of $2.5 million at the end of 2014.
To get around the fine, the FHA has ordered surgeons to reassess patients after 40 weeks on the list – whether there is a medical need to or not.
“There still remains a volume of patients whose bookings are causing financial penalty,” the letter from FHA staffers Dr. Peter Blair and Judith Hockney says. “It is imperative for the interest of all, including our patients, that we use every available strategy to avoid penalties.”
“It’s bad enough these people are being forced to wait a year for surgery, but now Fraser Health wants to play games with their wait times,” said CTF B.C. Director Jordan Bateman. “Dragging these people around and around the system as a loophole to avoid financial discipline is ludicrous. There is no medical need for these reassessment visits.”
The FHA letter notes that, under the threat of fines, it improved its booking systems and cut the number of patients waiting more than a year for surgery in half.
It is unclear from the documents how much, if anything, FHA has already paid in fines. It is also unclear whether patients being “reassessed” after 40 weeks to avoid fines are pushed back to the beginning of the wait list, or if their official wait time stalls while the “reassessment” occurs.
“While we applaud the government for trying to get waitlists reduced through financial penalties, we would urge the government also look to alternative surgical market delivery options to further reduce wait times,” said Bateman.
To see the full documents, click HERE. The documents include the FHA memo ordering “reassessments,” a breakdown of waiting lists at FHA hospitals, Burnaby Hospital surgeon caseloads, and visit statistics for FHA hospitals.
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