This article published in the Financial Post, Wednesday, February 27th, clearly demonstrates the absurdities resulting from government controlled healthcare. The degree of relevance may best be compared to the book, Animal Farm, penned by George Orwell many years ago.
Unfortunately in our current culture, rhetoric trumps reality, as recently demonstrated by the election of Barack Obama over Mitt Romney. The former is an orator, the latter a skilled proven businessman who is best equipped to run a company (i.e. the USA), balance the budget, and meet the needs of the people.
Evidence based results are no longer a factor in our society and some day we will rue the day this ceased to be the basis of all focus and reason.
Incidentally Laser Therapy, a technology that Meditech International has developed over the past 20 years, would probably take 3400 plus of those patients off the waiting list and improve the patient’s status so they would no longer require surgery or pharmaceuticals, and could resume a normal lifestyle.
The costs for this therapy would be approximately $1500-2000 per patient.
When will governments begin to devote some attention to the welfare of the people rather than the housing allowance of senators?
Fred Kahn, MD, FRCS(C)


Wendy Berringer’s feet are killing her. They hurt when she stands, when she walks and when she sits, which is what she was doing Tuesday, in her favourite rocking chair in her Halifax home, telling me about her bunions, a tiny broken bone in her left foot and her creaking left ankle, which cracks and groans and aches, causing her all manner of grief.

“I had my first appointment with my family doctor for my feet in 2002,” she says. “The original problem was my bunions. They rub in your shoes and you can’t walk properly. They are very sore. My family doctor made me an appointment to see a foot surgeon in Halifax to get the problem fixed.

“That was 11 years ago.”

In what seems like a parody of complaints over medicare waiting lists, Wendy Berringer is still, 11 years later, waiting for that appointment. Her would-be foot surgeon, an otherwise staunch defender of public healthcare, says there is nothing he can do about it, not when Ms. Berringer’s foot problem isn’t life and death — and not when his waiting list is 3,500 names long — and not when he is the only foot and ankle man in the entire province.

“I’ve been alone out here, really, for a long, long time,” says Dr. Mark Glazebrook from Halifax. “Dr. Andrea Veljkovic, in Kentville, is taking a job in Toronto.

“She was out here on a locum and we were hoping to extend her stay but the government said we didn’t have the money for her. Right now I have 3,500 people waiting to be seen by me in consultation. I have a private office where I see my referrals and the referrals are dated 2003 and 2004 now — and I have them chronologically up to 2013 — and I get close to 40 new referrals a week. And it’s for all of Nova Scotia.

“The province now acknowledges that there actually is a problem here, and they want to help us to get it sorted, so the Minister of Health has been fairly co-operative.

“But they still talk about resources and making decisions and, well, come on: maybe foot and ankle is not as important as cancer, and not as important as heart conditions, but a 10-year waiting list is way outside the norm in terms of what you should expect in public care, and if 10 years is the norm in public care than it is time to think of going private. People have the right to be seen for their problems.”

Dr. Glazebrook believes the public health care system is the “jewel in Canada’s crown,” and yet, he says, it is expensive to operate and if the government is more concerned with finding “efficiencies” than in hiring more doctors to tackle what is a Canada-wide wait time problem — that only additional manpower can truly fix — then we, as a country, are eye-to-eye with the proposition of actually having an honest conversation about private medicine.

David Wilson, a former paramedic, is Nova Scotia’s Health and Wellness Minister. He says the province’s NDP government has been “working hard” to ensure “that the province has a good complement of surgeons and specialists.”

How having one foot and ankle surgeon, with a 3,500 person backlog, qualifies as “good” is unclear. But, no matter, the politician says creating a parallel private system or offering health consumers a private option would pull money away from the public till and erode what the province already has, flawed though it may be.

“I think, and this has been a view of our party, and we have been very vocal about it, but I think we have to be very careful because the minute you [talk privatization] you open up the opportunity for profit to play a role and really siphon funds from a public system,” he said.
Dr. Glazebrook says hiring three additional foot and ankle specialists would cure his wait list woes. David Wilson says there is no money to hire them with. And so here we are, in a perfect pickle, with people like Wendy Berringer being told to grit their teeth and get in line.
“I know you have to wait your turn in Canada,” Ms. Berringer says. “I understand that. But sometimes the system doesn’t seem to work for the people that need it.

“I am kind of back to full circle, back to Dr. Glazebrook, and he has a 3,500-person waiting list. I have waited over 10 years to see him and I’m not getting any younger, you know.”

Timothy Caulfield

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