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, March 14, 2008

Health Minister Ron Liebert Stumbles on Healthcare

The following is a letter that I wrote to the Editor of Vital Signs, a publication put out by the Calgary and Area Medical Association.
Dear Editor;
It would seem from the March issue of Vital Signs that our President, Dr. D. Glenn Comm, is becoming disillusioned as to our ability to deal with the present and increasingly inevitable problems in our healthcare system as costs rise, labor shortages abound, and the population ages. Perhaps he will find solace in the pep talk given by Louise Gallagher, manager, Resource Development and Public Relations, Calgary Drop in and Rehab Center, in the "Letters" section of the same March issue. Actually, I'm very pleased that her mother has received excellent care and I couldn't agree more with her praise of the many caring and hard working care-giving professionals that work in our health care system.
Unfortunately, Dr. Comm, I don't believe help is on the way. Ron Liebert, stated on the Rutherford talk radio show, that Albertans had voted for change and that's what they would see in healthcare in this province. Ed Stelmach was quick, however, to contradict this statement and infer that the "Third Way" was DOA and having private care play a greater role in provision was not on the table. By the following day they got their act together and jointly declared that their basic goal was to squeeze more value out of the system while improving access for patients.
The frightening part of that statement is the reality that the largest cost to the health care budget is healthcare workers salaries and physicians fees, and historically the squeeze has not been to the system, but to the incomes of the providers. Dr. David Taras, a political analyst at the University of Calgary states the real issue is the "catastrophic shortage of doctors and nurses". I'm sorry Dr. Taras, but "squeezing" this group for more output (cost control) without putting incentives into the system to attract more workers is a non-starter so the system needs changing. And I for one, haven't seen any Alberta politician with the courage to take on the special interest groups that have consistently supported a system that continues to fall behind other nations in healthcare ranking, and attack any real discussions that could improve our healthcare system. Who would have thought that entrepreneurial Alberta would follow far behind Quebec and B.C?