Experts from cardiologists to pediatricians and orthopedic surgeons are pressing the British Columbia government to address a backlog that has worsened wait times.
Their stance comes as the head of the Canadian Medical Association says it’s time for innovative solutions to address the same problem across the country.
Twenty-six doctors sent an open letter to Health Minister Adrian Dix on Wednesday, saying they want an urgent meeting with him over a “broken” health-care system that is leaving them “tired and frustrated”. .
As of Thursday, 135 experts had signed the letter, which B.C. were uploaded on Consultant Specialists’ website.
“Patients are getting sicker and dying on our waiting lists,” says the letter, which outlines examples of the impact on patients, including those who have sudden hearing loss and are unable to see a specialist. After waiting too long for a permanent loss of hearing.
It says there are one million patients waiting to be seen in B.C., based on data from Consulting Specialists of B.C., which surveyed members in August.
Dr. Chris Hogg, a North Vancouver urologist who signed the letter, said a broad base of specialists has joined forces to pressure the government to take action because they are burned out trying to see more patients. who have become ill.
“I do everything I can to keep this wait as short as possible. But you know, there are times when I have a lot of patients waiting for cancer surgery, and I can’t sleep because I don’t know how I’m going to get them all done in a time frame that’s reasonable. “
Unlike family doctors, who recently received $118 million in temporary funding to offset overhead costs, specialists who run practices are also small businesses, Hogue said.
B.C. “It’s very distressing for specialists to see that there hasn’t been a conversation about a similar issue shared in specialty care,” said Hogg, president of Consultant Specialists.
“Primary care is a total disaster and definitely needs to be fixed,” Hogg said of the shortage of family doctors, adding that delays in referrals to specialists likely worsen patients’ conditions. When they end up in the emergency room.
“Then they’re taking up hospital beds, which takes away from surgical procedures because we don’t have a place to move the patient out of the (operating room), so we can’t do the surgery. So, it’s a huge domino effect that’s happening and not just isolated to primary care issues.
Even patients with a general practitioner languish on the waiting list for an average of 10 months and sometimes up to two years.
Hogue said Dix did not respond to the letter.
The health ministry said the minister was not available for an interview, but provided a written statement.
All doctors, including specialists, have ways to address their concerns through Doctors of BC, the association that represents them in negotiations with the government, the statement said.
BC doctors said a so-called Physician Master Agreement, which expired in March, is currently being negotiated with the government on behalf of all doctors but the needs of specialists are outside its scope and not addressed through compensation. can go
“Instead, in many cases, addressing specialist waiting lists can only be achieved through improvements to health authority infrastructure, processes and resources such as extending (operating room) hours,” it said in a written statement. said
“We fully intend to advocate for specialist issues, and work with B.C.’s advisory experts and various specialist sections,” the association said, adding that its board will determine when will be
President of the Canadian Medical Association, Dr. Alika LaFontaine said specialists in all provinces and territories are dealing with a “collective crisis” as millions of patients wait for their services.
“Primary care and specialty care are all being dominated at the same time,” he said, referring to the letter by B.C. experts to key issues such as overcrowding and closed emergency rooms in various jurisdictions due to nurse shortages. , pointed out the outstanding issues. and other health-care providers.
“Letters like this weren’t going out even mid-pandemic,” LaFontaine said of the stress health care providers are under.
“There’s a human cost to patients, but there’s also a human cost to providers who work day in and day out with this high level of stress.”
LaFontaine said finding innovative solutions like more virtual and team-based care requires collaboration by provinces and territories, not just more requests for funding, which have increased across jurisdictions.
“I don’t think many provinces have leaned towards team-based care, making sure that care is distributed to the right people at the right time and in the right place,” he said.
“Locations that are reducing the administrative burden on physicians are certainly creating more time for physicians to provide care,” he said, noting that physicians have to repeatedly submit information to multiple regulatory agencies.
LaFontaine called for an emergency meeting between the federal, provincial and territorial governments to create a long-term, sustainable system.
She said the association will gather this fall with other advocacy groups, including the Canadian Nurses Association and patient advocacy groups, to discuss how best to address similar needs.
This report was first published by The Canadian Press on September 22, 2022.
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