View Full Version : Sask. Health
03-09-2004, 09:31 PM
I was wondering if any of the Saskatchewan residents had any insight on how the two health regions (Qu'appelle, Sask) can remedy their ailing deficit. I understand the steps they are taking now in terms of decreasing admin. costs (wages, transportation etc), and decreasing elective surgeries until the next fiscal year (btw, are there any other temorary changes they are making right now?). However, i'm wondering how Sask can prevent this from happening in the future. As I recall, the health region was in a similar predicament last year, but luckily made enough changes before the end of the fiscal year to save some money.
So, something should be done to prevent this from happening next year...but what? Obviously, cash infusion from the federal gov't.....but after the Martin gov't finally accepted the 2 billion cash infusion proposed under the Chretien gov't, its probably not realistic to expect another increase. What else is possible?
Hey Nonce, sorry, wish I could help you out there, but I'm not too familar with the situation.
03-12-2004, 05:21 PM
any other ideas?..no one has any info?
Or, is the only viable thread in this forum the 'quiz' one...jk
03-12-2004, 05:28 PM
Can't really help you with that one, because it appears nobody knows the answer or we wouldn't be in the health care predicaments we are in right now.
Essentially it boils down to:
1. Pay more taxes or
2. Go two tier or
3. Make cuts to something
It is becoming more and more evident that the way things are going now the current health care system is unsustainable. Pretty soon we will be having to cut education spending, social spending, infrastructure spending, and everything else just to maintain our health care system. Where does it stop?
03-14-2004, 04:07 PM
It stops when people realize that while socialism works in Theory, it sure as hell doesn't in reality.
03-15-2004, 04:11 PM
Well, the U.S. spends a heck of a lot more of their GDP on health care than Canada, yet Canada is ahead in many important indicators (life expectancy, years of productive life lost). And the American system is as close to a free market health care system as we can get in the developed world. So why would you say socialism doesn't work??? Socialism doesn't work If you are RICH and want to get RICHER but it works if you are HELLA POOR and want to just become less poor. That's about as far as Canada's socialism takes it. I don't see anything wrong with that or even why you would consider it not workable.
Cut infrastrcuture spending, cut social spending? Pah! The federal government has had surpluses for many years now. Our Debt to GDP ratio is declining. Even if we put those surpluses towards health care, our Debt to GDP ratio WOULD STILL DECLINE (because of a little thing called economiv growth). Thus, don't cut anything folks, just use those surpluses! We have to stop having such a fatalistic attitude about our health care system...there's a lot wrong with it...but i'd rather still put money in to fix it then let privatization come in and deprive the least fortunate among us from the basic neccessities of good health. My 2 cents.
From today's Leader-Post.
Surgeon rips health district
Saskatchewan News Network; CanWest News Service
Monday, March 15, 2004
SASKATOON -- The Saskatoon Health Region's decision to cancel surgeries scheduled later this month is a political, not a money-saving, move, says the region's own head of orthopedic surgery.
Last month, the health region limited cardiovascular surgery and neurosurgery to one urgent in-patient case per day for the last eight working days of March.
"It's done because (health region administration) wants to be able to tell the board that they've done something in surgery to save money. And they've been ordered by Saskatchewan Health not to do any less surgeries," said orthopedic surgeon Dr. Jeff McKerrell.
Along with heading orthopedic surgery for the region, he's head of surgery at Saskatoon City Hospital.
"They wanted a more dramatic way to say they are saving money."
He said the region is trying to make its case with the provincial government to increase funding for health care in the next provincial budget.
"It doesn't hurt them to have a little information in the paper that makes people a bit disgruntled as well," he said.
Cancer surgeries and emergency procedures will still be performed during the slow-down but all other surgeries requiring hospital stays of more than one night have been cancelled and will be rescheduled for April. The region expects to save $200,000.
Of the 61 surgeries cancelled, 47 are orthopedic procedures, with the rest spread among other specialties. Two-thirds of them are urgent cases, while the remaining one-third are elective.
The head of the health region board says it had no choice but to postpone surgeries to cut costs.
"There's very little we can do," said Bob Bundon, chairman of the Saskatoon Regional Health Authority. "We can't cancel emergencies. We can't touch medicine. We will not close our doors to people that are sick and requiring immediate attention.
"... Our hearts go out to those people who are very disappointed with the delays but it was one of the very few things we could do to continue to try and attack the deficit."
At the end of January, the region's deficit was $7.5 million. It could grow to $12 million by the end of March but the region is counting on cost-cutting measures taken over the past few months to reduce that.
Bundon denies the health authority is playing politics.
"We have been apprising the government. They've been working with us as we move along and trying to meet the challenges that are there."
Starting March 22, the region will focus on performing day surgery procedures. The health region says it tends to cost less because the patients don't stay in the hospital and fewer and less expensive supplies are needed.
McKerrell said the patients who will suffer the most are those classified as "elective." He calls the current elective waiting time for orthopedic procedures of about 31/2 years "ridiculous" and predicts it will increase by a couple of months because of the slowdown.
He said when the cancelled operations are rescheduled, the urgent cases that were cancelled will be done first.
Saskatchewan Liberal Leader David Karwacki points his finger at the provincial NDP government.
He calls the decision to postpone surgeries a "setup" to pave the way for increased provincial taxes.
"The cancellation of surgeries is a political move to create pressure for more health-care dollars. The Calvert NDP will use that smokescreen to increase taxes," said Karwacki in a news release.
If the health region really wanted to save money it would have scaled back even further and run operating rooms the way it does during the Christmas holidays, according to McKerrell.
"We slow down and stop doing almost everything except emergent surgeries for a period of a week or so. We can close ORs. We can unemploy nurses in the OR and on the wards and all the various departments," said McKerrell.
He said such a move would be a bad thing for patients but it would at least make the financial problems faced by the health-care system more public.
03-17-2004, 02:36 AM
The solution is simple, implementing it is the tough part.
1. More doctors
2. More equipment/facilities
3. More efficient spending
If the provincial government increases the transfer payments to the province, and earmarks it not only for health but gets even more specific.
Stop spending money on developing "strategies", "plans", and other things with fun names like that. Don't spend money on protein structure research time at the lightsource when people with serious and urgent issues are sitting for hours in the waiting room at RUH.
Just throwing money into the problem is like buying a used car from a dealership. Your money falls through cracks - in the case of our health system, likely "ad hoc" committees and "expert consultants", both of which cost far more than they are worth and whose suggestions are ignored in the long run anyway (anyone remember Romanow)?
I work for a Health Canada program. Great work, great idea, but they waste money like running out of it meant they would get more. Wait! It does!
I don't think a private system is the solution though. Two-tier maybe, I'm not sure.
Any other opinions?
03-17-2004, 11:29 AM
"Don't spend money on protein structure research time at the lightsource when people with serious and urgent issues are sitting for hours in the waiting room at RUH."
-research in an integral part of making our healthcare system 'more efficient', a recommendation you make. Im not sure it is appropriate to down play the importance that R&D, of any type, has played in making our health care system (nationally, and globally) better.
"I don't think a private system is the solution though. Two-tier maybe, I'm not sure"
-excuse my ignorance, but arent these one and the same? Isnt a private sector the 'other tier' in the two tier system? Unless, by private system you meant a complete private system, with no public sector...in which case ignore what i just said.
03-17-2004, 11:52 AM
Hey nonce - I have a feeling this might get heated. Oh well, that's where things get most interesting I suppose =).
"research in an integral part of making our healthcare system 'more efficient', a recommendation you make. Im not sure it is appropriate to down play the importance that R&D, of any type, has played in making our health care system (nationally, and globally) better."
Agreed, but it should never take prescedence over the application of this research. R&D, so stated, should be an outlet for additional funds. I don't think many of the people no doubt currently sitting in the waiting room of RUH would agree that *any* portion of thier tax dollars are best spent on long-term-outcome research, and nor do I.
Medical research is important, intergral even, and I would never question that. I will perhaps downplay its importance though - is the proper activity of a system which has already dealt with it's more immediate responsibilities. If both can be done at once, great. If not, something has to give, and it's certainly not the research.
Jogging is great for you, but you don't do that the night before an anatomy exam do you?
"excuse my ignorance, but arent these one and the same? Isnt a private sector the 'other tier' in the two tier system? Unless, by private system you meant a complete private system, with no public sector...in which case ignore what i just said."
Yep, that's what I meant. To me at least, two-tier means both a public and private system available (at least in principle) to the single population. There are of course problems with that, and I don't really support the idea strongly enough to argue it.
I truly believe we DO have a good health system, it just needs some fixes. I don't proclaim to have all of the answers, but perhaps the two-tier system is worth looking into.
03-17-2004, 12:00 PM
"certainly not the research" = "certainly not the treatment".
Slightly different meaning there =).
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