B.C. ER doctors declare emergency

Twenty six BC hospitals are listed on the site including Penticton Regional and Kelowna General Hospital

Emergency room doctors from around the province, frustrated with overcrowded  ERs and shortage of doctors to care for the patients have declared an emergency.

Tired of what they claim as the governments ‘slapdash approach to ER medicine’, BC doctors have joined forces, forming a website to promote the BC ER Treatment Plan, and to ask for support.

The website explains the emergency, the BC ER Treatment Plan, offers tips for visiting the ER and gives both doctors and residents the opportunity to share their experiences. The site also contains ER Report Cards based on ER doctors experience and knowledge.

Twenty six BC hospitals are listed on the site including Penticton Regional and Kelowna General Hospital, both of which frequently serve Princeton and area patients, largely due to the four nights per week Princeton ER closure that began almost a year ago.

Penticton Regional received a ‘fair’ grading when it came to overcrowding, (waiting to see doctor…physician staffing deficiency) but got a definite ‘fail’ for not enough doctors. This hospital is ‘choked’ by over 100 percent capacity. Kelowna General received a big ‘fail’ grade for overcrowding, access block and not enough doctors.

Kelowna General is as well, ‘choked’ by over 100 percent capacity.

While speaking of ER experiences in a video on the website, Dr. Alec Ritchie describes feelings he has while walking down a hall with patients lined up along both sides, “We (the doctors) can see and hear the suffering… we can feel their pain, to the point where it actually causes us pain too.” We just can’t stand to see the suffering, the human suffering anymore. This is enough, we can’t stand it anymore.”

BC ER doctors have decided that, ‘government excuses aren’t enough—we all need government to take action on a  lasting solution.’

The doctors involved have come up with a five point plan based on a proven model pioneered by New Zealand, Australia and England. They believe the model to be “cost effective, comprehensive and corroborated.”

The BC ER Treatment Plan

Now and Over the Short-term:

1. Increase physician staffing in ERs to reflect increased ER patient visits.

2. Make annual adjustments to ER physician staffing to ensure safe patient care.

3. Set and enforce standards regarding how long sick ER patients wait for an inpatient bed.

4. Continue and expand initiatives that will reduce the number of ER visits that could otherwise be served by other practitioners.

5. Hold administrators in Ministry of Health and Health Authorities accountable for meeting the standards set.


Make honest and realistic plans to increase hospital beds to achieve regular hospital occupancy rates that do not exceed 85%.

Hospitals don’t work well when they are always full. We cannot assume that not a single extra person will get sick today and need a bed for care. It will take a long time to get there, but we must start with a plan.

Visit www.bcemergencycare.com to learn more and to view the full BC ER Treatment Plan.