The Interior Health Authority can show off the Royal Inland Hospital master plan all it wants but, as far as a retired neurosurgeon is concerned, the project won't be completed in his lifetime.
Gur Singh also questioned IHA president and CEO Robert Halpenny's claim that parking is a top priority for staff and surgeons at RIH.
"That's not what I've heard," Singh, a former Liberal candidate for Kamloops-South Thompson, said Monday.
Singh questioned Halpenny during a lunch meeting of the Rotary Club of Kamloops. The CEO was invited to share insight into the health authority's plans for the future.
During his talk, Halpenny reiterated IHA's vision for RIH, which includes extensive construction that will see a patient-care tower and other improvements.
A key component is more parking, he said. When complete, the entire project is expected to cost $400 million.
During a question-and-answer session, Singh said surgical wait times, patients housed in hallways and 48-hour waits to get into the emergency room are among the chief concerns of health professionals he knows.
"It's not a very good picture," said Singh.
Halpenny acknowledged shorter wait times and more patient beds are needed, and steps are being taken to make changes.
"It's not all about building space. We'd love to have said that four hundred million is going to get you everything that you want. I can't control that," he said.
Singh said he's not blaming Halpenny for the situation.
"It kind of sounds like it," said Halpenny.
Singh told Halpenny not to be an apologist for the province.
"The whole system requires a different funding formula," he said.
When it comes to funding, Singh sees the RIH master plan as a political move for the coming election. He can see the project being delayed or money redirected elsewhere following the vote in May, he said.
"It's not going to happen in my lifetime," said Singh.
Construction on the first phase, which includes a parkade and clinical offices, begins next year.
During his presentation, Halpenny said improved access to health care and short surgical wait times are a priority. To do that, there needs to be improved access for patients who don't always require a trip to the hospital.
He said IHA is turning to technology, with medical appointments and surgical planning done online in order speed up the process.