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    Wednesday, November 01, 2006

    Wait times guarantee? Hold on, I'm getting a tummy-tuck

    Stardate 6618.20

    One of the CPC's 5 priorities used to be Health Care. Specifically, the wait times guarantee. Excerpts from their website suggest that they are standing up for Canadians, and "Getting things done for all of us", so let's have a look and see...

    Ensuring Canadians Get the Health Care They Have Paid For

    Canadians have paid their taxes to support our system of public health insurance. But all too often, they find themselves waiting too long for critical procedures. That is not good enough. It is time Canadians received the health care they have paid for.
    The Government will engage the provinces and territories on a patient wait times guarantee for medically necessary services. This guarantee will make sure that all Canadians receive essential medical treatment within clinically acceptable waiting times.

    So it sounds to me like they have no plan (go figure...) but are willing to take on suggestions. At the very least, they are concerned about the problem, and should act to remedy anything that is helping contribute to the wait times problem.

    CTV 's Kathy Tomlinson has been investigating a disturbing trend however. According to her research, many public hospitals are allowing non-essential cosmetic surgery operations such as tummy tucks and breast implants to take place in their operating rooms for a small fee. Now, these operations are generally done in "off" hours, but of course, if they go on longer than anticipated, many essential operations are rescheduled for other days.
    "Cosmetic procedures are being subsidized by the taxpayer," Dr. Clifford Albert of the Canadian Academy of Cosmetic Surgery (CACS) told CTV News.
    Naturally, the hospitals themselves likely have no problems collecting the fees for the use of their facilities, which can range naywhere from $500 to $2,500. This makes sense to them, since it is a much higher sum than they would get from say a cataract operation (only about $750).
    Dr. Albert claimed, "There's no question if you do a procedure in hospital, your costs can be off-loaded to the health care system."
    "I have heard of many physicians who have had necessary surgery bumped as a result of a cosmetic procedure going on," said Dr. Albert.

    The Doctor in charge of reducing wait times in Ontario, Dr. Alan Hudson, has stated that these procedures can in fact delay essential procedures for other patients, and the only reason public hospitals allow them is to train and keep plastic surgeons so they don't leave. He feels the practice should be exposed to public debate.

    The thing that gets me is that our Federal Health Minister, Tony Clement, seems dis-interested in the problem. He says it is the responsibility of the provinces. Okay, maybe partly, but this government has promised to work with the provinces to reduce wait times. His response suggests that he is employing the infamous H-Dawg S.E.P. field (Somebody Else's Problem field) on this matter...
    "I am going to certainly wait for the provincial health ministers to respond to your excellent story."
    So last year, our public health care system helped fund some 180,000 invasive cosmetic surgeries. That's approximately 135,000 operating room hours. Of 104 plastic surgeons contacted across the country, over half said they do the procedures in public hospitals.

    So you want to at least start helping reduce wait times? Maybe this practice should be shut down. At this rate however, our government should have something in place in roughly 6999 days (the same time they will actually have national air quality targets in place)...

    All opinions shared on this site are strictly my own. Some people may disagree and that is fine, but rude comments or overzealous debate will be curtailed. I enjoy civil discourse, and encourage independent thought. I oppose George W. Bush and his Wars based on lies.

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