“Universal isn’t universal if you don’t have access to care,” says Dr. Roy Eappen.
The problem when we talk about health reform is that we treat it like a sacred cow, says the Montreal endocrinologist, “when we should be talking about good practices to treat patients and preserve the rights of Quebecers to have health care”.
“Too often, discussions lead to false comparisons and predictions of American-style health care,” he told The Suburban “when most reasonable discussions compare our system to European models that rank higher higher than us in the OECD rankings”, such as Sweden, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands and Germany.
Eappen, along with Lachute family physician Dr. Karim Elayoubi and Conservative Party of Quebec (PCQ) leader Éric Duhaime, presented their healthcare prescription at a press conference in NDG
The pandemic mantra was ‘protect the healthcare system’ as surgeries were canceled, people suffered and died from lack of care. “If you need a hip replacement and you live with chronic pain, it’s a huge cost to your life,” said Eappen, who carries the PCQ banner at Notre-Dame-de-Grâce during provincial elections in October. “We should not accept this as inevitable because of the pandemic. There were problems long before the crisis and nothing was done to remedy them.
The PCQ plan includes increasing medical school admissions and empowering more non-medical resources (eg, nurses, pharmacists, physiotherapists); faster recognition of foreign medical degrees; more local and private management expertise in public hospitals; and redirect funding. “Right now, hospitals get big block grants, but if the money instead followed the patients, as is common in many health care systems,” he says, hospitals will see patients as a source of income rather than an expense. “This can cause competition”, as institutions would compete for patients and would like to improve their services.
Assistant professor of medicine at McGill, Eappen says the shortage of doctors in Quebec is made worse by retirements and young doctors who reject the way of life of their predecessors. “They want more work-life balance,” he says, adding that increased medical school admissions and faster recognition of foreign-trained professionals can help mitigate that over the course of the year. of the next few years.
Quebecers’ right to universality is violated because of long waiting times, says the
Resident of Côte-des-Neiges who grew up in NDG and works at Sainte-Marie Hospital. After nearly 30 years of working in the system, Eappen says “we have seen – since the last reform of the Liberal Party – a massive centralization of power and the merging of all sorts of institutions that have very little to do with each other. others over large areas,” adding that individual hospitals have become very difficult to manage during the pandemic. “Our own hospital formed a local management committee because we were struggling to get enough attention from the administration of our network.”
“Currently 30% of our system is private and the single payer concept is a lie. When we had a shortage of operating rooms and beds in our CIUSSS during the pandemic, we sent a lot of cataract surgeries to private clinics. It was transparent and the wait times reduced… We need to think beyond the crisis and stop talking about the healthcare system as some kind of religious organization. If we were to shut down the entire province to keep our system from collapsing, what would that tell you about our healthcare system?
“All of these things are doable,” says Eappen, “one at a time. We’re not advocating massive one-shot change, but the first thing, at least getting the money to follow the patient. He says it’s absurd that a person can wait up to 18 months to see a specialist in this city “and it’s particularly difficult when it comes to mental health, which has become more urgent during the pandemic and with containment effects on the population, especially young people”. people.” These measures help to reduce wait times for everyone, he says, noting that when someone gets out of line for private treatment, the next person in line moves on. “I don’t know why don’t people understand that.”
This shouldn’t be threatening, says Elayoubi, adding that countries like Sweden have a 30-60-90 policy “which means if you don’t get your procedure or specialist consultation in the public system within a certain time , the state pays for in the private system.
Duhaime, whose party has 52,000 members and 14% polls, has been saying for years when discussing a model incorporating private sector measures, the American-style health bogeyman is emerging. It’s a political gimmick “and completely dishonest and false,” he told The Suburban. Quebecers now have the opportunity, after the crisis they have just experienced, to make significant changes. “The time has come to do it now,” said Duhaime, who said in December that it was “abnormal that we are unable to accommodate more than 800 patients in our hospitals, while Quebec taxpayers are paying a billion dollars a week for their healthcare system… The problem is not Omicron, but an ineffective healthcare system.