The group representing most of the radiologists in the Regina-Qu’Appelle Health Region are concerned patient safety is going to suffer after labour negotiations broke down.
The Regina Associates of Radiologists, or RAR, had been negotiating with the health region, but after talks hit an impasse, the group said its contract was terminated, effective Dec 1.
According to the health region, talks couldn’t get past RAR wanting an exclusive contract to provide services, but the health region wouldn’t agree. Keith Dewar, president and CEO of the RQHR explained that if they were to have an exclusive contract with a business group, they would have to do it with an RFP, a request for proposal, which means the RAR could be outbid. Dewar also said the process would turn the doctors’ work into a commodity, which they don’t want.
The RAR said that a group model, as it had been working, is widely recognized as the safest and most effective way to provide their services to patients.
“Any well-respected tertiary care centre is using a group model in medical imaging, because it is safest for the patients,” said Dr. Andrea Gourgais, with the RAR.
Gourgais said their concerns are about recruitment, retainment, and patient safety.
“It is not safe for patients to have these individual radiologists roaming the department without it being a team effort.”
Giving an example, she said without the group model radiologists who specialize in imaging one part of the body, could be required to deal with another part, where their skills may have fallen off.
Responding to the concerns in a news conference, the health region said that would not happen, radiologists will be able to stay within their specialties.
Dr. George Carson, senior medical officer with the RQHR, said there’s no reason for any patient care to change.
“All of the people who are members of our medical staff in imaging now will be members of our department of imaging tomorrow, and for as long as they want to be.”
RAR said that a quarter of Regina’s radiologists have left in the past 20 months, and it’s concerned that could continue if the health region isn’t using a group model.
“If we are not a group model radiologists will be scared of it because it’s unproven, no one knows if it works.”
Dewar admitted that some radiologists have left, but said several different factors contributed to those decisions. He said that attributing them leaving to this dispute is “stretching it a bit”.
For the time being, radiologists with RAR will continue to go to work, though a news release from the group said they’ll be “working without knowing what resources or assistance they may be able to call upon.”
The health region is in the midst of scheduling, and said radiologists will continue to get paid for their work, though if they want to do it outside of RAR, that will be an option.
Radiologists are doctors who specialize in diagnosing and treating using medical imaging techniques like x-rays, MRIs, CT-scans, and PET-scans.
With files from Courtney Markewich and Kevin Martel.