Physicians around the province are taking to the Internet and social media to voice their concerns about staff shortages in emergency rooms.
Eleven doctors submitted video testimonials for the B.C. Emergency Care website, launched in February, to express their frustration with the overcrowding in hospital emergency rooms.
At Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster, ER doctor Adam Lund said there were 17 patients still waiting to be seen at 4:30 a.m. when he finished his shift on March 17, and most of them had been there for hours.
"We need more doctors," he says in the video. "We need the space to see the patients and be able to break down these long lines that people are waiting for."
Doctors submitted videos to the website describing patients being seen in waiting areas because of a lack of beds; one waiting for up to 10 hours with a fractured spine and another who had a heart attack before he could be assessed by a doctor.
In a report card on the website www.bcemergencycare.com, RCH gets a failing grade for both doctor shortage and overcrowding.
In a report on the site, called the B.C. ER Treatment Plan, ER doctors in B.C. are calling on the provincial government to fund an extra $10 million annually to help alleviate these problems in the health-care system.
The last time the B.C. government directly increased funding to emergency rooms was in 2010.
B.C. Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid said adding extra funding at this point is not feasible without pulling funds already allocated to other areas in the health-care system.
The provincial government recently negotiated a $90 million physician master agreement with the B.C. Medical Association, she noted.
"What is very difficult for us is for any physician group to have money over and above that extra money in the agreement," she said. "We have to find it within our existing budget, so that means stopping doing one of those other things, most likely. So it has a very negative impact."
MacDiarmid said she is committed to working with ER doctors to deal with their concerns but said providing additional funding "is a very difficult thing for (the government) to do."
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