Cambie Surgery Centre in Vancouver, British Columbia as seen on Wednesday July 18, 2012.
Credits: CARMINE MARINELLI/QMI AGENCY
VANCOUVER - A private surgery clinic CEO aims to create a "hybrid" health care system after launching a lawsuit in B.C. Supreme Court, challenging restrictions to patients on long public system waiting lists seeking private services.
But one health expert said the creation of a parallel public-private system could lead to even longer waiting lists for those who cannot afford private care.
Cambie Surgery Centre's Dr. Brian Day told reporters Tuesday four B.C. residents who have suffered after enduring long waits in the public system are joining his company's lawsuit against the government.
The case claims the province's health care laws amount to a violation of citizens' charter rights - specifically the right to life. The lawsuit calls on the government to stop limiting access to private health care when the public system cannot provide services in a reasonable amount of time.
"The goal of this action is to move the whole health system to a hybrid system," Day said.
University of British Columbia health economist Steven Morgan said the creation of a similar system in the U.K. resulted in even longer public system waiting lists.
"I think this idea of ‘hybrid' is code for private financing, not private provision of care," he said, adding a system like this is ultimately about charging more money than the government currently allows for private services.
Morgan said this type of system does not create more doctors or more capacity for procedures, but instead re-organizes who receives care and when.
"The evidence suggests that's actually going to do more harm than good to the overall system."
Cambie Surgery Centre came under fire in July after a Medical Services Commission audit revealed evidence the clinic was engaged in "extra billing" practices. This occurs when a private provider charges additional fees to patients after accepting government money to provide routine services.