B.C. Liberals risking patient care with trial-and-error approach to cuts

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VICTORIA – A plan to cut chemotherapy services for cancer patients in Nanaimo that was reversed only after public outcry shows B.C. Liberal cuts are leading to bad policy decisions that will hurt patients, say New Democrats.

“The Liberal government promised British Columbians that it would protect critical services – they shouldn’t have to fight every day to make the government keep their promise,” said New Democrat health critic Judy Darcy. “Given the Liberal government’s unsustainable budget, we will almost certainly see more cuts like this soon.

“Introducing damaging cuts, then quickly hustling them out again in light of bad media and negative public reaction, is no way to run a health care system.”

Island Health confirmed budget constraints led to a planned reduction in chemotherapy services at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital from five days a week to four, forcing patients to travel to Victoria to receive treatment. Darcy says the cut was introduced quietly, and without warning to patients who depend on the service.

After media stories began to surface, Island Health reversed their decision, saying now that the clinic hours will not be reduced.

“Reducing services for cancer patients in Nanaimo was a bad decision, and reversing it was the right thing to do,” said Darcy. “What I want to know now is: what are they going to cut instead?

“The Liberal government reduced planned spending increases to the health authorities by $165 million so they could pretend their budget was balanced,” said Darcy. “Now we’re seeing the consequences. Health authorities are making damaging cuts to services patients need.

“How many more damaging cuts will be coming like this one – without warning, and without any apparent forethought?”

Darcy added that the premier’s decision to cancel the fall sitting of the legislature shows the B.C. Liberals refuse to be accountable for the their budget that is compromising care for vulnerable patients and their families.