New service provider in the works for BC Nurseline
VICTORIA – The government of British Columbia
announced in March 2006 that it plans to transfer BC NurseLine to the
Emergency Health Services Commission. After exploring the possibility of
finding another service provider, and performing due diligence through a
Joint Solutions Procurement process, BCNurseLine will be operated by the
public sector for the first time.
The Ministry of Health has discontinued negotiations regarding BC
NurseLine with Clinidata Corporation. Ending negotiations is an option
under all Joint Solution Procurement processes when it does not appear
that the parties will be able to negotiate a contract.
The Emergency Health Services Commission was established under the
Health Emergency Act and oversees the BC Ambulance Services. Its mandate
is currently broad enough to include provision of BC NurseLine. Both the
ministry and BC NurseLine see tremendous potential in this partnership
going forward to enable more opportunities for the public to make
informed decisions about their personal health. Additional regulations
are being considered under the Health Emergency Act which would permit
the commission to provide BC Bedline, a service that facilitates the
transfer of critically ill patients to hospitals with more appropriate
levels and types of care.
The move to the Emergency Health Services Commission is in keeping with
the government’s commitment to expand and strengthen the BC NurseLine
service beyond the enhancements of the last four years. The BC NurseLine
budget has almost tripled, rising from $5 million in 2001/02 to nearly
$15 million in 2005/06. This funding strengthened British Columbians’
access to care in rural and remote communities and enabled the addition
of the pharmacist service and innovative pilot projects to support those
with chronic disease. This next step will build on this foundation with
a view to ultimately expanding the service to include physician
involvement, mental health support and crisis intervention.
The BC NurseLine, BC Bedline and other BC HealthGuide services will
continue to operate as normal. The contract with the current service
provider for the BC NurseLine services will be extended until services
are transferred to the Emergency Health Services Commission.
The BC NurseLine provides thousands of British Columbians with 24-hour,
toll-free access to registered nurses or a pharmacist from 5 p.m. to 9
a.m. every day. Specially trained nurses answer questions about health
topics and procedures, identify symptoms, and help callers decide when
to see a health professional. Information and referrals are also
provided to other services. Pharmacists are available to answer
questions about medications. In the last year, the number of calls to BC
NurseLine increased 60,000 to 330,000 calls in 2004/05 from 270,000
calls in 2003/04.
BC Bedline provides an important service to British Columbians by
assisting physicians and other health-care providers with the timely
transfer of emergency and urgent patients to beds with the appropriate
level of care.