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?

Sunday, May 28, 2006

News Media Bias and Health Care

I guess the headlines of the Saturday; May/27 issue of the Calgary Herald answered my queries on my previous blog. The headline read “Fallen soldier’s dad lashes out at Harper” with the subtitle “Grieving father chastises PM for ban on media coverage”. I think the reporting of the death of Captain Goddard in the Calgary Herald can now be classified as a cheap partisan plan to use the death of this brave soldier to bolster the main stream media’s position in their ongoing dispute with Stephen Harper. And quite honestly, if I were part of the Goddard family I would be furious. It would seem to be incomprehensible that the news media would “befriend” the Goddard family and write extensively about this Canadian hero, only to use the matter in selectively taking a pot-shot at Mr. Harper in their final chapter. Little mention was given to the fact that Harper had spoken to the family, and the family had not mentioned that they wished the news media at the ramp ceremony. No mention was made of the fact that Tim Goddard (father) had appreciated the phone call and praised Harper for it. I saw no mention of the fact that the federal government, effective April 1/06 put in place a compensation package of $250,000.oo for the spouse of a deceased soldier. I found that out by reading “letters to the Editor”.
On Question Period today there were four “news types” and the Liberals famous “beer and popcorn” strategist (Scott Reid), all putting forward the viewpoint of the press gallery and one lone Conservative fellow putting forward Harper’s position. Then, Craig Oliver makes a statement to the effect that Harper is being unwise in his approach to the media since the media may hale the new Liberal Leader as the next Messiah in the next election (was that a threat?). The Press claim Mr. Harper is a control freak, but the real issue seems to be that the news media wants control, and are putting themselves forward as the people’s representatives; duly authorized to dictate to the government on how information is to be released to the press. I recall the Election in January electing Mr. Harper; when was the election that elected Craig Oliver and the Ottawa News Bureau?
In the interview with Manitoba’s Premier Gary Doer, Mr. Doer points out that Mr. Klein gave a very insightful, intelligent, and scientifically based address a year or so ago at a high level ministers conference discussing B.S.E., and the news headline reported the “Shoot and Shovel” quotation with regards to the BSE problem.
So what if there really is a bias on the part of the Main Stream News Media regarding conservative positions. How does that affect our health care system? Probably, we will continue to be mired in the status quo for years to come. Over the last while I have read news articles stating “Canadians don’t see wait times improving”, surgery patients waiting longer, operating room nurse shortages, and an article on a family doctor who stated that his expenses were significantly eroding his take home income year after year. The Calgary Health Region states that it will need an additional 30,000 health care workers over the next few years. The most recent editorial response to this dilemma has been in the Thursday, May 24, Herald editorial page: “More money not a cure” and the subtitle “keeping doctors in Alberta hinges on job satisfaction”. In the editorial, the writer shows a remarkable lack of understanding as to the activities and income of a family doctor, but my real objection to the article is that the job satisfaction of family doctors in the work place will necessarily revolve around the issues of access to both technical and human resources (C.T. scans, MRIs, specialists) and reducing our stress in the work place. All of these things are directly related to funding or lack thereof. David Finch, in the May issue of Alberaviews, also states “Money alone can’t solve the health care crises” but then goes on to say in his article “The waiting times for hip and knee surgeries fall drastically after a major philanthropic contribution”. Alberta’s pilot project on shortening waiting times on hip and knee replacements has enjoyed some success with the help of tens of millions of additional funding dollars. So why does the news media continue with the mantra “more money won’t help”? Is it because more money in health care means less money in other social programs, education, child care, infrastructure, etc, and the news medias political views do not support outside avenues of obtaining health care to defray expenses from the public system? Mr. David Finch provides us with the answer: “We need more wisdom in the system”. In particular, by the example he gives, he presumes much money can be saved by more carefully considering who to spend our tax dollars on in our health care system. Now why isn’t that idea considered SCAREY by the national news media?

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