Brief job action by hospital pharmacists and medical imaging technicians is expected to impact patient services at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital today, says a spokesperson for Interior Health Authority.
Karl Hardt said Thursday that Health Science Professionals Bargaining Association (HSPBA) health science employees’ job action will affect the hospital’s operation Friday.
“There will be some impact (today),” he said, although he could not elaborate Thursday on what all would be affected.
Today, a 24-hour essential-service-only strike by medical imaging technologists, who perform x-rays, CT and MRI scans, nuclear medicine tests and other imaging procedures was planned. Job action by members of the unions was expected to result in diagnostic tests, day surgery, or other procedures being delayed or rescheduled for some patients.
The IHA website said essential service staffing levels in these departments would ensure urgent and emergent services required by patients and families will continue to be provided.
The IHA was contacting patients affected by the job action to advise them of the disruption.
As of press time, Hardt could not quote specific numbers of people contacted that would be affected by the job action.
There are no picket lines at this time and hospital emergency departments will remain open to see people with urgent medical conditions.
The first strike Thursday was to be by hospital pharmacists who perform essential services only from 9 a.m. to midnight. But there was no impact to patient services at KBRH based on the pharmacy job action, said Hardt.
Mediator Vince Ready was brought in Tuesday after negotiations that started in February failed to produce an agreement between the Health Employers Association of B.C. and the HSPBA—representing a group of health science unions.
However, the HSPBA has not given any indication that it will be putting job action on hold while talks continue. Hardt said the union has to give 72 hours notice for any further job action and the only notice the IHA has is for the two days in question.
“At this point this is what we have,” he said.
Any updates on job action are being listed on the IHA website under “Job Action.”
Reid Johnson, president of the largest HSPBA union, the Health Sciences Association, said the B.C. government’s “co-operative gains” bargaining mandate has not produced an employer wage offer, and the presence of a mediator alone isn’t enough to suspend strike action.
He said they tabled a proposal for a four per cent wage increase over two years, with no benefit concessions.
“And that’s in line with the other public sector agreements that have been reached over the last few months under the government’s cooperative gains mandate,” he said in a press release.
He said nuclear medicine and other technical specialties are among the highest-skilled positions other than physicians, and there are chronic shortages of qualified staff.