Surrey Memorial Hospital is threatening to fire all 28 of its anesthesiologists if they don’t agree to provide round-the-clock care in the maternity ward in the next year.
Fraser Health says the move is necessary because many women at the hospital are being forced to give birth without an epidural, due to the lack of anesthesiologists.
This is the latest in a long-simmering dispute between the specialists and Fraser Health over staffing and pay rates.
BC Health Minister Terry Lake is speaking out about the issue, saying 24/7 care should be provided.
“The body is a 24/7 organism,” said Lake. “And the needs, physical health needs of people, happen 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We went through this on Vancouver Island a number of years ago, came to a satisfactory conclusion at Royal Jubilee Hospital, so that we have dedicated obstetrics and anesthesia service 24/7.”
The B.C. Anesthesiologist Society says their services are in high demand across the province and this is an issue that needs to be resolved across all hospitals. Sometimes there is only one anesthesiologist on call and that person has to also attend to the emergency ward.
At Surrey Memorial, one-third of women in labour get an epidural for vaginal deliveries.
That is compared with 50 per cent of women delivering babies in Vancouver.
Across the country the average is just under 60 per cent.
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