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Campbell cuts surgeries for British Columbians, offers them to Saskatchewan

Budget cuts have made fewer surgeries available to British Columbians, but the province is considering welcoming patients from Saskatchewan into B.C. operating rooms.

“It's kind of a wacky discussion for these guys to be having,” said New Democratic Party health critic Adrian Dix.

A Canadian Press story last week quoted Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall saying his province might send patients to B.C. for things like orthopedic surgery. “He said Premier Gordon Campbell has indicated that B.C. has capacity and fairly short wait times in that area,” the story said.

“If people have been waiting for 15 months, do they care if [their surgery] happens in Saskatoon, Regina or Surrey? I'm not sure they do,” the story quoted Wall saying.

"Discussions have occurred between our government and the government of Saskatchewan regarding orthopaedic surgical patients being flown to B.C. to receive surgical services," B.C. health minister Kevin Falcon said a written statement e-mailed to the Tyee by a ministry spokesperson.

"Those discussions continue," he said. "By charging rates to other jurisdictions that are higher than the cost of delivering that service, the additional funds can be reinvested in our health system to provide additional services for British Columbians."

Falcon said the wait time in B.C. for hip and knee replacements has declined 50 percent since 2001.

Dix said the discussions are happening while health authorities in B.C. have announced in the past couple months they are cutting 10,000 surgeries before the end of the fiscal year to save money. “[Campbell's] cutting so many surgeries there's room for people from Saskatchewan to get into our hospitals,” he said. “That's interesting public policy.”

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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