Lorne Doerkson is the Liberal MLA for the Cariboo-Chilcotin. (Black Press Media file photos)

Lorne Doerkson is the Liberal MLA for the Cariboo-Chilcotin. (Black Press Media file photos)

MLA’S CORNER: Health care workers need better support

When it comes to the state of health care in this province, government seems unwilling to listen to legitimate concerns and criticisms and take action to resolve them.

The Official Opposition has been raising the alarm about our collapsing health care system for more than a year. Shuttered emergency rooms, reduced services, and long waits to see a doctor or get a scan have had painful — and sometimes deadly — consequences for patients.

Some health care workers have also been speaking up about their high levels of stress, burnout, and concerns for patient safety, only to be reprimanded. Fearing job loss, being labeled a ‘troublemaker’ or other repercussions, others are too afraid to relay their challenges to health care administration — and silence doesn’t do anyone any good on a serious matter like this one. We simply cannot have people feeling bullied or ‘muzzled’ by the government when they’re trying to make valuable suggestions to improve patient care.

Reports of toxic workplaces where doctors and nurses face retaliation for speaking out are also leading to doctors abandoning their practice, and the mass resignation of intensive care physicians. Staffing shortages are at critical levels and must be addressed. The Canadian Association of Physician Assistants has given Health Minister Adrian Dix a common-sense and specific proposal for physician assistants to lessen the workload of doctors. This is supported by the Doctors of B.C., the First Nations Health Authority, and the B.C. Rural Health Network. Physician assistants work under the supervision of doctors and can perform many administrative duties, along with conducting patient interviews and exams, reducing strain on the system and improving patient access to health care. They are permitted in other provinces and could begin working in B.C. almost immediately.

So when will Premier David Eby tell Minister Dix to approve the hiring of physician assistants in our province? The time for action is now.

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BC politicsCaribooChilcotinColumnist