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NEWS RELEASE · 14th July 2010
Ministry of Health Services
The Province and the BC Medical Association today announced an increase to the number of doctors in 19 contracted emergency rooms across the province, resulting in more timely and improved access for patients, said Health Services Minister Kevin Falcon and BCMA president Dr. Ian Gillespie.

"We're pleased to have reached an agreement with these emergency room physicians that will bring more doctors and more services to some of the province's busiest hospitals," said Falcon. "This deal builds upon our actions to ensure patients continue to receive timely, world-class emergency care."

Over the next two years, the Province will invest a total of $146 million for physician services in these hospitals - $12 million more than the previous agreement. Half of the new money will be invested to provide an additional 10.6 full-time equivalent positions to meet demand today, while the remaining funds will allow physicians to provide up to 17,800 hours of service each year to meet growth in emergency room demand - the equivalent of 2,225 additional eight-hour shifts.

Periodically, the Province and the emergency physicians will review the changing demand in the 19 emergency rooms to ensure the funding is allocated appropriately. The ministry and the emergency physicians agreed on how to distribute the new resources by using a rigorous workload model.

"The BCMA is pleased that government will be committing the resources necessary to alleviate the pressure found in the high-volume emergency departments around B.C.," said Gillespie, president of the BC Medical Association. "We are continuing our work with government to make improvements to B.C.'s health-care system."

Since 2001, the Province, the regional hospital districts and the hospital foundations have made significant capital investments in emergency rooms across the province, committing over $460 million to improve and expand 40 emergency departments. Capital projects, both completed and currently underway, are enhancing the physical structure of the province's emergency rooms, as well as addressing challenges by adding acute-care capacity. The improved design and increased capacity allows physicians to see more patients and work more efficiently.

Government is also looking to innovation to improve emergency room care. Patient streaming has been implemented in the Vancouver Island Health Authority at Nanaimo Regional General, Victoria General, Royal Jubilee and Cowichan District hospitals, which has led to shorter wait times to see a physician and fewer patients leaving without being seen.

Results from patient-focused funding pilot projects in the Lower Mainland reduced congestion in emergency departments in Vancouver by up to 25 per cent, improving care and reducing waits for thousands of patients in these hospitals.

The funding supports the 19 hospital sites where physicians are paid through a contract, as opposed to a fee-for service model.

Doctors working in the other B.C. emergency departments provide services on a fee-for-service basis. They are covered by the existing Physician Master Agreement and are not impacted by this agreement.