B.C. urged to merge ‘duplicated’ lab tests 0
Impact to jobs is still unclear, but Provincial Health Services Authority says it’ll do what it can do minimize the loss of staff. (REUTERS FILE PHOTO)
Jobs could be lost as the B.C. government is being urged to merge and cut lab services in the quest to save millions by amalgamating “duplicated” testing sites, according to the Provincial Health Services Authority.
Edward Ratnarajah, PHSA executive director for pathology and lab medicine, said on Wednesday the plan to save $43 million includes recommendations to consolidate a large list of lab-based tests and even cancel screenings for drugs such as LSD, Angel Dust and barbiturates.
For example, multiple large health institutions, such as Royal Columbian, B.C. Cancer Agency, and Vancouver General, currently have their own equipment to conduct histopathology tests.
The recommendation advises their merger into two undetermined sites.
“Job loss is not a goal of any of these consolidations … it could be one of the impacts. If that occurs, there’s a process we follow to see if we can place the (affected) person in a vacancy if possible,” Ratnarajah said.
The recommendations have yet to be formally approved by Victoria. Ratnarajah said the authority is now working to consolidate tests for microbiology, trace metals, muscle tissues, and converting paperwork-based reporting to electronic files.
There are currently 31 testing sites in the Lower Mainland split among four health authorities. Ratnarajah said urgent tests would remain at separated locations due the time-sensitive nature of those cases.
Anything not urgent, however — such as tests mainly conducted by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control — are recommended for merger.
Additionally, Ratnarajah said, technological advances mean machines can now automate many tests traditionally conducted by health authority staff.
He added amalgamation could actually speed up services for patients who wouldn’t be liaising directly with the labs.
B.C. Ministry of Health spokesman Stephen May said government has already restricted billing on some tests as part of the recommendations. Health Minister Terry Lake, however, was not immediately available for comment.