Friday, February 24, 2012


When I hear opposition members attack the government on issues like wait times, availability of rural medical services, shortages of specialists - my eyes glaze over, and I tune out!

 Announcing that  the government is going to award $720,000 to an external consultant to review three higher volume emergency departments to determine baseline wait times, identify the causes of delays in patient flow and implement solutions to reduce wait times is not great politics. One might be excused for thinking that with all of the administration, managers and strategic planners on the payrolls of the healthcare boards, the department of health and in fiance, that this review could be completed internally. The optics that scarce dollars are not being directed to the front lines is glaring.

The recruitment and retention of experts in a competitive and lucrative field offering high salaries, rich bonuses and lots of perks is a daunting task.

Previous governments have struggled, as future governments will. Unfortunately, the public purse is not limitless. The government, no matter the party stripe, has to make the province's healthcare programs work with the finite resources it has available. The only other lever it has, is to manage those scarce resources, and the delivery of programs, as efficiently as possible.

It is an ignorant oversimplification to say that we can not put a price on a human life. As a society we can, and we do. I have always been a believer in universal medicare. A two-tier system goes against my values, and belief in a just society, where access to education and healthcare is the same for everyone. Does this mean that we bar those who are willing to provide these services outside the regular norm? Is there a way to contract out services with-out creating two systems of healthcare - one for the rich, and one for everyone else?

Two weeks ago my wife's grandfather who is 93, had a pacemaker implanted. It was a day surgery. A few years ago he would have spent a few says in hospital. Today, the procedure is done quickly, and a public health nurse comes by to check on him. This appears to be working quite well.

With the provision of healthcare services predicted to gobble up 25% of government's expenditures in the future, how can we expect to pay the bills? We can raise taxes, pay less, go without or find efficiencies.

Our demographics show that people are living longer, need more healthcare than ever before. In a pollyanna world we would have doctors in every community, no wait lists, the best and newest diagnostic equipment  and specialists to spare but we all know that is never going to be the case.

So lets stop whipping our political leaders, and be honest about the services that can be provided under the geographic and demographic confines in which we reside. Let us judge our leadership on how well they deliver services with the resources they have. Lets offer realistic solutions that reflect the realistic barriers that exist.

Perhaps than I will start tuning in.

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