By Letter to the Editor on January 15, 2020.
In 2006 we tried doing hip and knee replacements in publicly-funded private clinics. Health Resources Centre in Calgary was doing 900 orthopedic surgeries per year. In 2010 it declared bankruptcy and the taxpayer was left responsible for the outstanding costs. The health authority acknowledged at the time that they had no choice but to pay 10% more for surgeries performed in the hospital setting as there was a shortage of operating rooms.
Private clinics perform cataract surgeries now and we still have a long wait list. Will moving hip and knee replacements outside the hospital decrease wait times?
Our system has flaws. There are caps on the number of cataract and joint replacements each hospital can perform. This leaves no ability for the surgeon to reduce his wait time.
Operating rooms are not being utilized in the most efficient way. There are operating room closures in the summer, at Christmas and other times. There are limits on the amount of operating time available to each surgeon. The operating rooms are being left unused for large periods of time. Some of it may be due to lack of specialized staff but most is due to the budget.
If the operating rooms are not being run more efficiently and there’s no increase to the caps on cataract and joint replacements, how is taking surgeries from the public system (and the money I assume) to the private system with potential cost increases going to reduce wait times? My understanding is the number of surgeries to be performed is not changing, just the venue.
There is definitely room for improvement, and throwing money at health care is not the solution. But starving it of funds, underutilizing the space, a constant state of chaos, decreasing frontline staff and adding more bureaucracy will not fix it. Nor will privatization.
Bureaucracy has pushed decision makers away from the most important part – the reason for public health care – the vulnerable patients and families. To find solutions we must work with everyone, and value and respect the ideas and opinions of all frontline workers, not just give them platitudes. Patient-centred care must become patient-focused care again. That is why we are here.
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