01/30/2015 03:20 EST | Updated 04/01/2015 05:59 EDT

Ian Sibbald, B.C. Doctor, Refused Care To Councillors Over Recreation Fee Increase

An investigation has been launched.

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An investigation has been launched after two former city councillors in Trail, B.C., complained that they were refused emergency room care during their tenure in office — over a political issue.

On June 14, 2014, Sean Mackinlay was suffering from a painful open sore that had become infected on his lower right leg and went to the emergency room at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital in Trail for treatment.

After checking in with the nurse, he was told a doctor would see him soon but, he was not prepared for the reaction of the attending physician, Dr. Ian Sibbald, when it came time to be examined.

"After waiting for a while, the doctor came in and remarked that there was an infection and that he would only provide basic needs as I was currently sitting on city council with the City of Trail," Mackinley wrote in a letter of complaint to the health authority.  

He thought the doctor was making a joke, but Sibbald told him he could seek further care at hospitals in Nelson or Grand Forks.

Pressing him for a reason, Mackinley said the doctor referred to a decision made by a previous council that doubled fees for recreational programs in Trail accessed by residents of nearby Rossland.

Sibbald, who lived in Rossland, was apparently so incensed that he and his family should have to pay more for use of the swimming pool, ice rink and other services in Trail, he told Mackinley he would not treat anyone on council.

Mackinlay, who subsequently lost his council seat, said he was stunned by the doctor's comments, and launched a  complaint with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia.

Now retired, city councillor Gord DeRosa said he experienced a similar reaction from Sibbald a few months after Mackinlay's experience when he visited the Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital emergency room following an ATV accident.

He said he was told by Sibbald: "There is a shift change coming in another hour and a quarter — I suggest you wait for him because I am not treating you."

Interior Health confirms the incidents did occur and offered an apology to both patients, stating that "no patient should ever be denied care because of political affiliation."

The College of Physicians and Surgeons is investigating.

When contacted by the CBC News, Sibbald refused to comment.


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