MILOBAR – As healthcare system crumbles, Horgan deflects the blame

(Image: Mel Rothenburger)

MLA, Kamloops-North Thompson

ONE OF THE THINGS THAT CANADIANS, and therefore British Columbians, pride themselves most on is universal health care. We all expect timely access to quality primary health care — but thanks to John Horgan and the NDP’s inaction, this is not the case for nearly 20 per cent of British Columbians who do not have a family doctor.

MLA Peter Milobar.

We are facing a healthcare crisis in this province and the NDP government isn’t doing anything about it. If you ask Health Minister Adrian Dix what he is doing to ensure you have a family doctor, his response would likely point to the opening of Urgent and Primary Care Centres (UPCCs).

What he fails to mention, however, is that this is only a Band-aid fix. Just like all our other healthcare facilities, UPCCs are understaffed and experiencing massive wait times.

In Kamloops, the opening of a UPCC has contributed to the closure of our walk-in clinics. But I suspect if they had remained open, patients would be waiting an agonizing amount of time to be seen, as is the case across B.C.

At 58 minutes, walk-in clinics in British Columbia have the longest average wait times in the country — nearly double the national average of 25 minutes. Those who can’t get an appointment are often forced to delay a visit to the doctor until the situation becomes so severe, they have to attend one of B.C.’s overwhelmed emergency rooms.

It is not only our family doctors who are stretched thin. Nurses are also completely burnt out and this is evident at Royal Inland Hospital, where reports last year indicated that approximately two-thirds of emergency room nurses left their jobs.

This is not just about the COVID-19 pandemic. In the two years prior to the pandemic, the hospital had been at more than 120 per cent capacity.

This level of burnout isn’t isolated to nurses in Kamloops. The Official Opposition is hearing from many nurses — anonymously, because they fear retribution — who describe unmanageable working conditions in other communities as well.

They say they are losing sleep and finding themselves in tears before and after their shifts, fearing for the well-being of patients as well as their own futures in the field. No wonder many of them are making the difficult decision to walk away.

This is placing a strain on patients needing more complex care, such as surgeries. According to Dr. Cassandra Lane Dielwart from the B.C. Orthopaedic Association, the shortage of staff such as nurses means doctors have limited operating-room days and therefore cannot book patients for surgeries.

In Kamloops, about 1,500 orthopedic patients are still on the wait list. Cancer patients are also facing a lack of support as John Horgan continues to fail to deliver on his promise for a local cancer centre in Kamloops.

Instead, patients are being sent to Kelowna for cancer care, creating unnecessary stress for patients and their families who are supposed to be focused on healing.

What British Columbians truly need is longitudinal care — that is, consistent access to the same physician who knows your medical history and supports you on a long-term basis.

While our healthcare system is crumbling, John Horgan and the NDP continue to deflect blame and delay action. Every British Columbian deserves universal health care and that includes timely access to family doctors and acute care.

Peter Milobar was elected MLA for Kamloops-North Thompson in May 2017, and re-elected in October 2020. He is the Official Opposition Critic for Finance. He previously served as critic for Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, critic for Environment and Climate Change Strategy, and the Official Opposition House Leader.

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7 Comments on MILOBAR – As healthcare system crumbles, Horgan deflects the blame

  1. John Noakes // April 30, 2022 at 11:43 AM // Reply

    Yes, Pete, maybe you should blame Mr. Horgan for the burnouts and emotional problems doctors and nurses had trying to do their job as front line workers during the Covid-19 pandemic response.
    It was an interesting time having my wife go through that stuff when the pandemic hit. She was moved to tears when people bashed pots and pans together as a sign of gratitude.
    If you were to look in a mirror, Pete, and see a picture of health, then please feel free to criticize others. Feel free to criticize a guy who has just gone through cancer treatment and emotionally, is probably a wreck inside.
    Instead, if in the mirror you see someone who could be occupying a hospital bed tomorrow, maybe reconsider your stance, put politics aside and have two parties work together on a long term plan for health care.

  2. Kevin Cowan // April 30, 2022 at 6:25 AM // Reply

    Blame is something politicians love to pass as soon as they lose power. But blame must be shared. It takes ten years of education to create a medical doctor. Instead of constant shifting blame, maybe all the politicians could share responsibility for the problem and take steps towards solving it.
    Even if they increase the seats in medical school, that answer will take years to help alleviate the shortage. But there are many qualified doctors in our midst. I know 3. One is an obstetrician from India with 20 years experience. She works as a clerk in a health authority and would happily work as a GP.
    Nurses can enhance their training and qualify as nurse practitioners in a relatively short period.
    There are answers out there. Stop passing the blame back and forth and get to work.

  3. Seven health authorities, created by none other than Gordon Campbell. Major duplication x 7 of bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo. That it hasn’t been fixed is preposterous but blaming Horgan is a bit rich. Another local boy, good friend with the finance critic was in the driver seat for four years…what was the legacy?

  4. Inanely long in whining and complaining, absolutely nothing about possible solutions, or even a willingness to work with government to even debate solutions. Thats the way of all official opposition parties, and this one seems to prefer to double down on obfuscation rather than cooperation.

    Once this Liberal MLA was in official opposition, if anyone had hoped that he would have the slightest interest in ‘working with’ anybody … to do anything … at all … was sorely mistaken. Party politics is his way, personal career glorification is his goal. We are just the fodder.

    Today’s opposition parties only work to ensure that conflict is the only way, negotiation is irrelevant and agreement is capitulation and therefore weakness?

    In this particular case, Milobar whines about what the NDP have not done or have done poorly, yet when in government themselves, they were a complete udder failure with the very same portfolios. People were running out of doctors, clinics were closing, and UPCC’s were being opened, and wait lists were horrendous … yet here he is ignoring actual history and twisting the rhetoric to make it as if the NDP are the root cause, and this is all new.

    News flash Peter … we’re not that dumb.

  5. The NDP did not create this mess, it has been getting worse for years. Stop politicking, your party is at least as much to blame!!!

  6. Connie burris // April 29, 2022 at 11:14 AM // Reply

    Mr.Milobar gave a good description of the medical crisis being experienced in our community. However, I read no suggestions for correcting the situation. This crisis has been a long time coming and no political party has been effective in stopping it. Both parties need to work together to give us a well functioning medical system.
    As One of the six thousand people on the 811 list, I am thankful that Minister Dix created the UPCCs. With thousands of people having no family doctor, Kamloops could use both walk in clinics and a UPCC.

  7. No doubt there is a crisis in health care, and especially with family doctors and nurses. But it’s not new. When the Liberals were in power for a number of years, they didn’t do anything either to alleviate the problem. Let’s not play the “blame game” – instead how about an all-party committee to consider and address the problem, and bring forward solutions..

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