SURREY, B.C. — British Columbia's health minister acknowledged that chronic issues of overcrowding and staffing level concerns at one of the province's largest hospitals are leading to people becoming aggressive over patient care.
Adrian Dix said Wednesday the ongoing issues at Surrey Memorial Hospital have created a stressful atmosphere, prompting the government to implement an immediate and long-term expansion plan.
Dix told a news conference that they've heard of patients and their families showing aggression because of accumulated stress and frustration over care.
"Yet, through it all, health-care workers here at Surrey Memorial Hospital remain fully dedicated to their patients every day," said Dix. "They show up every day to give care and they are exceptional. The issues, however, are real and they need real, meaningful solutions."
Dix said after recent meetings with Surrey hospital officials, doctors, nurses and staff workers, he is announcing immediate expansions to emergency and maternity services at the hospital with longer-term expansion of cancer diagnostics and other health services within 18 months.
"To bolster Surrey Memorial's function as the major hospital in the region, we will be expanding the existing Surrey Memorial by improving and increasing capacity for more in-patient and outpatient care, surgeries and clinical programs," he said.
Last month, Surrey hospital doctors released a series of letters saying management at Fraser Health where the hospital is based and B.C.'s Ministry of Health have not provided support for the overstretched emergency room, and lack of staff and hospital capacity have put patients in jeopardy.
"We've heard the impact of dealing with chronic congestion and very high daily volumes at the hospital," Dix said. "This is leaving the patients and hospital staff struggling with chronic issues. Hospital workers feel burnt out. It is clear that's the case."
Fraser Health president Dr. Victoria Lee said the recent issues at Surrey Memorial have taken a physical and emotional toll on both patients and staff.
The Green Party said in a statement Dix must introduce an immediate plan that will address the dire conditions at B.C. hospitals.
“Doctors and nurses have been sounding the alarm about the situation in hospitals in B.C. for months," said Dr. Sanjiv Ghandi, a Green Party deputy leader. "Patients are at risk because the workplace at Surrey Memorial Hospital is not safe, and the healthcare system does little to support healthcare workers."
BC United Leader Kevin Falcon is expected to hold a news conference Thursday following a tour of Surrey Memorial Hospital.
Dix said similar and other pressing health care issues exist at other provincial hospitals, which is why he will spend much of the summer visiting facilities to gather information and look to implement change.
A Ministry of Health statement says about 1,000 people are moving to Surrey each month, part of an annual growth rate of almost 10 per cent.
Surrey's population is now estimated to be more than 600,000 people, says the ministry.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 7, 2023.
The Canadian Press