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Status quo in health care not acceptable, say doctors

September 19, 2013

TORONTO - The Health Council of Canada's report on the past decade of health care transformation confirms what doctors have been saying for years - we can be doing much better in delivering health care in our public system for Canadians.

"We've been raising red flags on the need for innovation and system improvement for years - there are incredible innovations in our public system that should be championed across the country, and reforms that should have been made a long time ago," said Dr. Monika Dutt, chair of Canadian Doctors for Medicare. "It's time for our political leaders, especially the federal government, to step up and do something about it. Ten years without real results is inexcusable." 

Canadian Doctors for Medicare has repeatedly heralded innovative programs in our public system and called for action from the federal government to scale up these homegrown initiatives. This includes innovations such as the Alberta Bone and Joint Institute’s strategy that reduced hip and knee wait times from 11 months to just 9 weeks, and Ottawa’s eConsulting program that reduced the wait to access a specialist from 3.5 months to just one week.

“The lack of progress on wait times also shows that not only have we not scaled up the innovations that we know work, we have no evidence that the introduction of for-profit delivery to take pressure off wait times has been effective,” said Dutt. “We have solutions at hand in our public system – now it’s time to use them.”

The report from the Health Council flags the need for leadership, and for better policy frameworks and performance monitoring to foster innovations and system improvement – clearly areas where federal leadership and increased accountability could make a real difference.

The Health Council of Canada is an independent agency tasked with monitoring the progress of the intergovernmental Health Accords of 2003 and 2004 that were established to transform our health care system over the following 10 years and support national standards. It was recently de-funded by the federal government.

“The Health Accord was supposed to deliver transformational care that addressed health inequities, including home care, primary health care reform, and a national pharmacare strategy,” said Dutt. “But the lack of leadership has left Canada with more of the same. We need our federal government to step up and deliver real results for Canadians.”

For more information:

Alissa Von Bargen, Canadian Doctors for Medicare

T: 416-351-3300 C: 647-230-9164

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