12/07/2012 11:50 EST | Updated 02/06/2013 05:12 EST

Hospitals' imaging services hit by B.C. job action

Diagnostic imaging services at B.C. hospitals will be affecting by rotating job action launched by health science workers on Friday.

The job action began Thursday with hospital pharmacists reducing their services to essential services only to put pressure on the government to deliver a new collective agreement.

Starting Friday, the Health Science Professionals Bargaining Association says workers who deliver diagnostic imaging services will also cut back to essential services.

This group of workers includes those who conduct x-rays, CT scans, MRIs, ultrasound, nuclear medicine and other imaging procedures.

The association says it also plans to reduce hospital lab services to essential services as of midnight Sunday, adding there will be no picket lines. The association represents about 17,000 health science professionals.

Procedures cancelled on Vancouver Island

No picketing is planned, but Vancouver Island Health Authority spokewoman Suzanne Germain confirmed that hosptials would be cancelling a variety of non-emergency procedures, including diagnostic tests and some surgeries.

"We absolutely recognize the impact that this is having on patients and their families. It isn't something that we wish was happening and we will be contacting patients next week to rebook any procedure that is postponed," said Germain.

Germain estimated about 500 x-rays, C-T scans, MRI's, mammograms and other medical procedures would be cancelled at Vancouver Island hospitals alone.

In addition VIHA has cancelled 20 operating room procedures that require medical imaging including some surgeries, stroke clinic services, endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCPs), pain clinic procedures and heart cath lab procedures.

Cancellations and delays provincewide

Fraser Health has notified approximately 880 patients that their procedure would be rescheduled as a result of the job action.

A notice on the Vancouver Coast Health website said, "Patients coming to VCH for urgent care should expect some service delays in areas such as medical imaging (for example, x-ray, MRI, CT) and pharmacy due to this unfortunate job action."

"You will be contacted directly if your scheduled procedure needs to be postponed. If you are concerned about the status of an upcoming visit, please contact your doctor to confirm."

The Northern Health website said, "Diagnostic imaging departments at Northern Health facilities will also be closed to walk-in appointments on Friday.

"Northern Health (NH) is contacting patients who are affected, ahead of time, to advise them of this disruption. NH staff will call patients whose procedures are postponed. If you have not been notified by our staff that your procedure is cancelled, please attend your appointment as scheduled."

The Interior Health website said, "Interior Health is contacting patients affected to advise them of this disruption. If you have not been notified by our staff that your procedure is postponed, please attend your appointment as scheduled."