CBC News – Health – Olympic fears will lead to 2,000 surgery cancellations: memo

This is a repeat of an older story, but it is interesting to reflect on now that the Olympics are over, and to see what has happened

CBC News – Health – Olympic fears will lead to 2,000 surgery cancellations: memo.

Olympic fears will lead to 2,000 surgery cancellations: memo

Last Updated: Wednesday, July 15, 2009 | 12:46 PM ET Comments126Recommend45

The Fraser Health Authority plans to cancel 2,000 elective  surgeries during the 2010 Winter Olympics, according to a memo released  by the B.C. NDP. The Fraser Health Authority plans to cancel 2,000 elective surgeries during the 2010 Winter Olympics, according to a memo released by the B.C. NDP. (CBC)An estimated 2,000 elective surgeries will be cancelled during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in February by the Fraser Health Authority because of concerns about traffic gridlock and swine flu, according to a hospital memo released by the B.C. NDP.

The text of the memo —which was sent to unions working for the Fraser Health Authority earlier this week, according to the NDP — said the regional health authority plans to postpone 35 per cent of its elective surgeries over a four-week period.

The move follows a similar decision by Vancouver Coastal Health to also reduce elective surgeries during the Winter Games, the memo said.

It cites traffic gridlock, the potential of a medical emergency during the Games, the possibility of increased demand for hospital beds because of swine flu, and the need for medical staff to volunteer during the Games, as reasons for cancelling the surgeries.

The memo also said the cancellations will allow for cost savings during difficult economic times and will affect only three per cent of surgeries for the entire year.

Funding crisis blamed by NDP

NDP health critic Adrian Dix said gridlock shouldn’t affect hospitals in the Fraser Valley while the Olympics are underway in Vancouver and Whistler, and he doesn’t see a need to cancel so many surgeries so far in advance.

‘It is always possible to cancel surgeries. But to cancel thousands of surgeries in advance doesn’t make sense.’— B.C. NDP health critic Adrian Dix

“It is always possible to cancel surgeries. But to cancel thousands of surgeries in advance doesn’t make sense. If an emergency happens, the health authority of course will respond. But that could happen at any time, and they have mechanisms to deal with that,” said Dix.

Dix suggested the cancellations are really just about saving money, because the Fraser Health Authority is facing a funding shortfall. In the end patients will suffer, he said.

“Elective surgery can be elective neurosurgery. It can be brain surgery. It can be serious back surgery. It can be debilitating surgery. It can be knee replacement and hip replacement. It can be a whole range of things that aren’t immediately life-threatening, but can be very serious and all of them medically necessary,” said Dix.

The Fraser Health Authority was not available for comment early Wednesday morning.

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