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Health authority offers $4,100 for doctors to work in B.C. emergency department


Emergency departments at some Lower Mainland hospitals are offering hundreds of dollars in bonuses to lure qualified doctors to pick up shifts, with the hardest-to-fill shifts worth $4,125.

CTV News has obtained emails from Fraser Health outlining a severe staffing shortage at Mission Memorial Hospital, with physicians guaranteed thousands of dollars to cover a single overnight weekend shift. In February, that offer topped out at $3,200 per shift

Multiple sources have confirmed Langley Memorial, Abbotsford Regional, and Peace Arch hospitals are also facing significant gaps in their summer schedule, with too few doctors signed up to work.

“We know that several emergency departments do not have enough physicians right now,” confirmed Dr. Ahmer Karimuddin, president of the Doctors of B.C.

“This means existing physicians have to work much harder by taking on additional shifts, or be in situations where there are fewer physicians working than is ideal.”

It’ll also lead to longer waits, and raises questions about the quality of care people will receive, with too few doctors caring for the same number of patients. Health-care workers spoke with CTV News about their concerns on condition of anonymity, citing a fear of repercussions for speaking up

The health minister acknowledged “it’s a challenge every summer” and insisted Fraser Health is working on the issue, adding a new compensation agreement is in the works, which will be similar to the one hammered out with family doctors last year. 

“What you're going to see in the coming days and weeks is an extension of that model to other areas of the health-care system, including hospitals, including long-term care, including palliative care, including maternity care,” said Adrian Dix.

When CTV News suggested throwing money at burnt-out health-care workers didn’t seem to be having much impact, and asked whether his government will improve working conditions, Dix insisted it is already doing so.

“We’ve got to make sure their jobs are doable so we can retain doctors in the emergency room, not just adding new doctors, and that's why you see all of the initiatives that've been put in place,” he said. “And if we need to do more, we're doing more.” Top Stories

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