Commit to public health care now!
Commit to public health care now!
In May 2020, the BC government announced BC's Surgical Renewal Plan to deal with the increased surgical backlog created by the understandable but difficult decision to postpone non-urgent surgeries due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The plan included some commitments to bold public solutions, but also worrying plans to expand the use of for-profit surgical clinics. At that time, more than 4,000 of you wrote to Minister Dix asking the government to be bold and implement already proven public solutions that build the public capacity of our health care system, now and far into the future.
Last month, the government released Progress Report #6 to provide an update on the Surgical Renewal Plan. We are alarmed to see a significant increase in the outsourcing of surgeries to private, for-profit clinics eight months after surgeries were restarted. Instead of investing into the public system to build our long-term capacity, the government continues to invest in a private system that costs more and pulls capacity from our public health care system.
We now ask you to follow up on your previous letter to Health Minister Dix asking the government to invest in our public health care system by implementing already proven public system improvements such as improved waitlist management and centralized intake.
In the 3 years prior to the pandemic, BC's government made significant progress in reducing surgical wait times by increasing public surgical capacity and expanding the use of efficient best practices. These improvements helped reduce wait times for all British Columbians. However with the Surgical Renewal Plan, public funding continues to be redirected to private clinics with no end in sight in hopes of a quick, temporary fix to the surgical backlog. This funding would be better spent in continuing to expand and enhance public surgery resources to help reduce wait times for everyone on a permanent basis.
We are calling on the government to to scale up proven public system improvements including:
- Optimize public hospital capacity before contracting out procedures to for-profit clinics;
- Scale up the five hip and knee central intake and team-based rapid access clinics, announced in 2018;
- Increase OR efficiencies like the Richmond Hip and Knee Reconstruction Project by improving the scheduling of surgeries and recovery beds;
- Streamline waitlists by moving them from individual surgeons’ offices to centralized health authority waitlists;
- Improve access to seniors’ home and community care, which can reduce hospital use.
In addition, we are calling on the government to hire more professionals such as medical imaging technologists and rehabilitation staff that are essential for good pre- and post-surgical care outcomes.
We know public health care is not only equitable, it also offers better quality, more efficient and cost-effective care. Nothing has made this more clear than COVID-19: the pandemic erupted in the places like long term care where our system has been most fractured by private for-profit interests.
We already know that private, for-profit delivery costs more, pulls health professionals out of the public system and is unaccountable to the public. We cannot afford to further entrench these facilities and their investors in our system.
Now, more than ever, is the time to focus our efforts on public system improvements and expanding capacity in the public system, to re-amplify the need for team-based models that are proven effective and to think about addressing staffing shortages among all health care providers required to work down the backlog.
Please fill out the email to Minister Dix in the sidebar - and edit the email to explain how investment into public health care solutions would benefit you and all BC residents. The BC government needs to hear from you.
Together we can get through this and any future crisis but only if the government is willing to do the work of strengthening our public health care system.