Are non-B.C. patients jumping the health-care queue?

Click to play video: 'Other provinces and territories buying spots for B.C. health care?'
Other provinces and territories buying spots for B.C. health care?
WATCH: Are patients in other provinces and territories jumping the health care queue in B.C. because their governments are buying spots on waiting lists? Cassidy Mosconi reports – May 27, 2024

As B.C. residents wait to see specialists or undergo surgery, it has come to light that out-of-province patients don’t have long waits.

Paul Gallant waited five years for shoulder surgery at Saint Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver.

“Those five years were some of the .., most miserable five years of my life,” he told Global News.

“Your fuses can be shorter because you’re anxious. You’re always wondering, is it going to get worse? Am I going to totally lose my ability to use my shoulder and my arm?”

British Columbians suffer through some of the longest wait times in the country for health care.

Click to play video: 'B.C. man recounts gruelling five-year wait for surgery'
B.C. man recounts gruelling five-year wait for surgery

However, Yukon resident Heidi Slat was flown to Vancouver on Sunday to see a cornea specialist because Whitehorse does not have specialists.

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“Well, I flew in this morning and I’m going to see your cornea specialist tomorrow morning at 9 a.m.,” Slat told Global News.

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She said the entire trip was covered by Yukon Health and she was able to see the specialist within a week.

“Our wait is shorter because apparently in the Territories we buy appointments, so they slotted me (in) and I needed to see a cornea specialist they got me in in a week from Whitehorse,” Slat added.

Global News has reached out to Health Minister Adrian Dix who was not available to speak on camera.

However, staff from his office confirmed to Global News that other provinces and territories cannot buy appointments in B.C.

Their patients can be triaged here, on an urgent need basis.

If that happens, B.C. will directly bill the referring province or territory.

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Former BC Women’s Health Foundation employee talks about needing hospital’s NICU

Ayendri Riddell with the B.C. Health Coalition said, unfortunately, Gallant’s story is nothing new.

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“There’s basically two types of wait times,” she said. “There’s the first type of wait times folks experience from the family physician to a specialist or a surgeon. And then the second would be from the decision from that specialist or the surgeon to completion or completion of a surgery.”

Riddell said they have been hearing about long wait times for decades and there needs to be a more efficient way or model of getting referrals.

She added that there likely would not be concern about patients from other provinces or territories if there was a centralized wait list for everyone and better coordination to see specialists and surgeons.

“That question wouldn’t be raised as an issue if we didn’t have waitlists… wait times here in the province,” Riddell said.

“We wouldn’t really go, ‘Oh that’s a big issue that someone else from another province is needing to access care,’ because the real issue is the wait times and how things are coordinated.”


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