B.C.’s major medical centres will have access to anesthesiologists seven days per week, 24 hours per day for women with high-risk pregnancies.
The province and the B.C. Medical Association have agreed to allocate $2.5 million to obstetrical anesthesiology from funds unused in the current agreement.
The province says the funds will help local health authorities, such as the Vancouver Island Health Authority, to ensure round-the-clock coverage for maternity.
The agreement impacts Victoria General Hospital, which hosts the sole obstetrical ward in the region.
The issue of anesthesiologist staffing levels boiled over in August after a VGH doctor claimed a stillborn baby could have been linked to an alleged shortage of anesthesiologists at the hospital.
A woman in labour had required an emergency C-section at a time when the hospital’s lone anesthesiologist was occupied with other surgeries.
An independent, external review of the incident concluded the availability of anesthesiologists was not a factor in the stillborn baby.
The review did make 21 recommendations though, including creating a dedicated obstetrical anesthesiology service.