Earlier this year, the B.C. government signed a contract with hospitals in Bellingham, Wash., to allow cancer patients to get radiation treatment there.
However, six months in, the program does not appear to be taking that much pressure off the BC Cancer Agency.
In total, 1,310 patients in B.C. were referred to Bellingham for treatment and 533 of those people were deemed eligible.
However, 249 of the patients referred said they preferred to stay in Canada and 164 refused U.S. treatment outright.
In addition, 163 patients were found to be “not clinically suitable.”
“They can’t even send the number of patients that they’ve contracted for,” BC United leader Kevin Falcon said in the legislature Tuesday.
“An average of 12 patients a week have been treated in the United States, not even close to the over 50 patients per week that the NDP contracted with U.S. hospitals for.”
The cross-border radiation treatments are for people with breast and prostate cancers and no urgent stage 4 cases.
“We want to ensure that people who need care now get it,” B.C.’s Health Minister Adrian Dix said in the legislature.
“And that contract, as a member will know, is for up to 50 patients a week. We want to have that capacity and patients in the hundreds have gone to the United States and got that treatment.”
Patients opting not to cross the border for treatment say they want to stay at home and they don’t mind waiting.