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B.C. anesthesiologists to stay at surgical posts

The dispute between the B.C. Medical Association and the province’s anesthesiologists is turning nasty.

Globe files/Globe files

B.C. anesthesiologists have agreed to remain at their surgical posts for now, while renewing efforts to resolve their long, complex dispute with the provincial government and the B.C. Medical Association.

A B.C. Supreme Court hearing had been scheduled to begin next week on an application for a permanent injunction to prevent anesthesiologists from withdrawing their services at B.C. hospitals.

But representatives from the anesthesiologists and B.C. health authorities, which were seeking the injunction, will now ask the court on Monday for an indefinite adjournment of the application.

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"This is a good result," Robert Halpenny, president and CEO of the Interior Health Authority, said Friday. "The uncertainty for patients awaiting surgery, and their families, is now dispelled."

The B.C. Anesthesiologists Society had threatened as many as 270 of their 400 members would withdraw from elective surgery procedures for a week to protest lack of progress in their bargaining dispute.

Roland Orfaly, executive director of the BCAS, said the anesthesiologists will continue to press for the right to present their issues to a conciliation panel appointed to determine a new master agreement covering all doctors in the province.

So far, the BCMA and the healthy ministry have resisted the anesthesiologists' demand.

"The point is, we don't want to withdraw our services. What we want is a process," said Dr. Orfaly.

He said the BCAS committed to staying on the job for the time being, because they did not want to be distracted by the pending three-day court hearing.

"We can still go back to the court at any point to assert our right to withdraw our services," Dr. Orfaly said.

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