You’ve probably heard a story like Erin Molstad’s…
“When I was injured at the age of 25, I didn’t know how I would be able to endure the lifetime of pain that was the result. I was told that I could talk to an anesthesiologist about coming up with a plan for managing my chronic pain. Little did I know that would mean living in agony for two years before I even got an assessment.”
Anesthesiologists are specialist physicians who provide critical around-the-clock care to over 500,000 British Columbians each year. Women in labour receive pain relief and life-saving care, anesthetized patients safely undergo surgery, and chronic pain patients get the relief they desperately need. But these things can only happen if patients have timely access to an anesthesiologist.
Despite a decade of talk about reducing wait times for surgery, the opposite is the reality in BC.
Since 2001, the number of patients being forced to wait for surgery has increased 40%. In December 2010, there were 74,981 patients waiting for surgery in BC.
Even worse, the time that each of these patients waits for surgery has increased by 50% since 2001.
The sad truth is that taxpayer-funded operating rooms all across BC go unused because of the shortage of qualified anesthesiologists.
Meanwhile, patients suffering with chronic pain because of conditions like cancer often wait over one to two years for an appointment to see an anesthesiologist for specialized pain treatments.
The Supreme Court of Canada said it best in 2005:
“Access to a waiting list is not access to health care.”