Made-In-Canada Health Reform

Posted on January 22, 2009 in Health Debates – Opinion/letters – Made-in-Canada health reform
Published: Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Re: Free To Be Warehoused, Colby Cosh, Jan. 16.

Colby Cosh is correct in stating that Canadian “warehouse-style” medical care (all Canadians getting the same access to health care, regardless of financial ability to jump the queue) allows for the freedom of patients to choose a physician, “assuming they can find a physician at all.”

Patients keep calling for shorter wait times and more primary care docs. Politicians only deal with funding the health care system, and the piggy bank is empty. Too many doctors advocate a two-tier system as part of the solution.

Perhaps it’s time to formally recognize the evolution in modern medicine and not just throw more money at the system. Eliminate the cherished general practitioner (GP), to be replaced with nurse practitioners and physicians’ assistants, perhaps even clinical pharmacists. The GPs could then become specialist assistants, allowing them to concentrate more of their time and training on handling complicated and urgent cases.

This has already begun, although only in selected areas of GP special interest: psychotherapy, pain, diabetes, HIV, emergency and occupational medicine, anesthesia, etc. The money stays the same, access is improved and wait times are cut. More importantly, we will have moved forward with our own made-in-Canada health care system.

Dr. David Saul, GP, practice limited to special interest in Fibromyalgia pain, Toronto.


Health reform (II)
Thursday, January 22, 2009

Re: Made-In-Canada Health Reform, letter, Jan. 20.

Ontario’s doctors disagree with Dr. David Saul’s notion that we should replace general practitioners (GPs) with other health care providers. Instead, we should focus on the evolution of collaborative health care teams that have proven to be effective in providing an enhanced level of health care to patients.

Physicians, nurse practitioners, dieticians and other health care professionals all have important roles to play in the health care system. And when we all come together under one roof to work in a collaborative health care team, we know more comprehensive care is provided to more patients.

The notion of eliminating GPs is not in the best interest of patients and would be a tremendous step backward from the progress that has been made. GPs retain special expertise to allow them to deal with a patient’s individual needs and are responsible for a patient’s overall health.

The Ontario Medical Association will continue to advocate for investment in collaborative health care models that deliver on the expectations of patients. Patients, and other health care providers, can benefit from the expertise of a family physician. We should continue to work toward the goal of ensuring all patients gets what they deserve — a family doctor.

Dr. Ken Arnold, president, Ontario Medical Association, Toronto.

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