What's Wrong with Healthcare?

Thinking inside and outside of the healthcare box. After 41 years of family practice, what's happened to Canada's healthcare system?

Saturday, January 07, 2006


All levels of government, federal and provincial, were running deficit budgets as we entered the 1990’s. In spite of efforts to date, nothing had slowed the continuing climb of health care costs. In Alberta during the /80’s, interest rates, inflation, and bankruptcies were high, oil prices and government revenues were low. I think already at that time there was a realization that the present situation was unsustainable. With this knowledge in mind and knowing decisions would have to be made that would be very unpopular, the Alberta government set up health regions and appointed a board to replace existing hospital boards. Hospitals were the largest part of the health care budget and doctors had far too much influence on their local hospital board. As one administrator complained “my job is h--l, doctors act as though all these decisions are a matter of life and death”.
One of the first things the Calgary Regional Health Authority did was to hire a large accounting firm to adopt a “business approach” to health care in Calgary. This resulted in the Calgary General Hospital being demolished because it was presumably too expensive to heat. It also resulted in the Holy Cross Hospital being sold for approximately 4.5 million dollars when 4 times that amount had just been spent on renovating the Holy Cross Hospital, including a new efficient heat exchanger unit. During this time, the Salvation Army’s Grace Hospital was also taken out of public service and became privately owned.
A true “the sky is falling” routine! Calgary, prior to these changes, had 3.2 acute treatment beds per 1000 population. Recommendations by experts at the time (self appointed?) said there was 20% “fat” in the system. At the present time, in the Calgary region, we have 1.6 beds per thousand population. It would seem we went past the “fat”, through the “muscle”, and are now into the “bone”.
Is it any wonder that waiting lists (actually risk lists----because while you are waiting you are at risk!), have doubled in the past 12 years?


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