The health agency in charge of cancer treatment in British Columbia has released the full contents of an audit of its triage system, after having originally refused to do so seven months prior.
The Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA), which oversees cancer treatment in B.C., says it has done so because it has taken steps to address the audit’s findings.
Last May, The News reported on the case of Carol Young, who was unable to get timely cancer care in Abbotsford despite having been told she had just weeks to live without treatment. Young’s story prompted The News to file a freedom of information request for the last audit of the triage system for cancer patients to see if issues related to her case had previously been identified.
Young was able to get cancer treatment after her case received media coverage.
When the PHSA responded to The News’ information request in July, it redacted the bulk of a 2016 audit, including 10 pages of “risk findings.” All of the “positive findings” were released. The PHSA claimed it was able to refuse to disclose the findings because it would reveal advice or recommendations. But the same section of the provincial FOI law states that a public body could not use that justification to refuse to release an audit.
The News requested the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner review the redactions and release the audit. An OIPC investigator later recommended the PHSA due so, but the health authority had not done so by mid-January.
That suggested the case could be headed for an inquiry, in which an adjudicator decides what information by a public body. Although such inquiries are supposed to happen within months, many now take more than a year to conclude, prompting the province’s Privacy Commissioner to tell The News that he may ask the legislature for more resources.
Last Friday, the PHSA released the cancer triage audit in full to The News.
A letter by Sybila Valdivieso, the interim director of Information Access Privacy at the PHSA, said the health authority had chosen to release the full audit because, since it had been completed in 2016, the health authority had “taken substantial steps to address the recommendations” contained in the audit.
The letter does not concede that the law requires the release of an audit.
The News will follow with a story on the findings of the audit and the responses from the PHSA.
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