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?

Friday, February 17, 2006

Who Lobbies for Patient Care

Once again, today, Feb17/06, health care demands a prominent position in the Calgary Herald Editorial Page. And once again the “Friends of Medicare” (acknowledged in the article as being an Alberta based lobby group) are mentioned in their opposition to changes in the delivery of health care. Mr. Taft, Alberta Liberal leader lends his voice to opposition, and thrown in for good measure, is the Canadian lobby group for Medicare, the Canadian Health Care Coalition. Michael McBane for the coalition states: “it is very alarming” and “these are very rich and large provinces”.
What strikes me is the fact that I cannot find a lobby group that is speaking out for change in spite of the fact that waiting lists (risk lists) are getting longer and longer while governments are putting more and more of their budget into health care. The Supreme Court of Canada has stated that provincial governments cannot maintain the monopoly on health care if they cannot agree to provide timely access. It contravenes our right to life, liberty, and security of person. Why did it take an individual in Quebec to pursue this issue all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada? One would think that with hundreds of thousands of Canadians in pain and at risk while they wait for interventions, some group within this compassionate society would have taken a position on this issue long before now.
Perhaps it has been the fear mongers such as the “Friends of Medicare” or the Canadian Health Care Coalition who preach doom and gloom and Americanization of our health care system. Perhaps it has been similar action on the part of political parties along with promises and false hope to garner and milk the public for votes. What ever the reasons, there does not seem to be a group that represents all those people on “risk lists”.
Why can’t we hear the thousands of Canadians on “risk lists” screaming “We will not tolerate this anymore!” In other areas of our modern society groups of wronged people are enabled to combine themselves into one entity and bring a “class action suit” against those that have wronged them. I understand there are difficulties in doing this against a government however, should there not be a group in all of Canada who will at least actively lobby for better access for all Albertans and all Canadians and not pander to the system?
There is a factor that may play a part that I have not seen in print, (but my patients have confided it to me) and that is fear. On several occasions over the last few years my patients have felt uncomfortable when I suggested I would push their case with the hospital or the specialist. With more discussion they revealed that if they were perceived as a “problem patient” they may in some way get inferior treatment or be “bumped”. Having experienced this attitude from a few patients, I began asking more patients about how they felt in this regard and it turned out to be quite common. You see, when your life hangs in the balance (and there is only one provider), and a long line up exists waiting for the same service, it is normal to feel insecure and even intimidated. Very few are prepared to speak out under those circumstances. Has our health care system inadvertently become equivalent to a third world tyrant, where punishment befalls those who speak out? Why in many of our health care provider institutions do we have signs that warn patients about adverse behaviors and attitudes? We rarely see these signs in private facilities. Is it possible that we as Canadians have become so intimidated by our monopolistic health care system that we have, individually and collectively, become too fearful to stand up for the choices that European Countries enjoy? Is it possible that we, as a nation, have become as protective of our present health care system as the Middle East is to Islam?

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