HEALTH Minister Terry Lake needs to answer questions about what will be included – and who will be consulted – in the upcoming review of the Fraser Health Authority, say New Democrats.

“There have been a number of troubling incidents at Fraser Health hospitals over the last few months that shed light on the urgent  issues of hospital overcrowding, emergency room wait times and inadequate staffing levels,” said New Democrat Health Critic Judy Darcy. “Despite what the minister says, these issues are more than hiccups – they are pervasive issues that require a clear and comprehensive action plan.”

Only after public pressure from residents and health care providers did the Liberals announce that a strategic and operational review of the Fraser Health Authority would be conducted. But the integrity of the review has already been called into question with the appointment of the head of the Fraser Health Board as the co-chair of the review panel.

Darcy noted she is particularly concerned that important details of what the review will contain – and whether or not there will be public consultation – have not been released publicly.

“In order to ensure that a broad range of voices are heard and reflected in the outcome of this review, the health minister must release the terms of reference,” said Darcy. “Members of the public, community leaders and health care providers have all brought these concerns forward and they deserve the opportunity to have their voices heard.”

Last week, Darcy sent a letter to Minister Lake calling on him to release the review’s terms of reference and ensure that public consultation is an integral part of the review process. The letter also calls on the health minister to address a series of issues related to ongoing problems such as hospital bed shortages and pressures at high capacity emergency rooms like that at Surrey Memorial Hospital.

“Patients and health care providers are the ones who will suffer most if the B.C. Liberal government refuses to include them in this review process. We need to ensure that those most affected are not ignored.”