As a student, what advice would you give policy
makers regarding health reform? Feel free to address broad issues or specific
topics, real world stories are welcome.
Moore and his 2007 film, “Sicko” are to be believed, health care in Canada is
far and away the best thing since someone discovered maple syrup tastes better
with pancakes under it. The truth is, however, that Canada still has a long ways
to go until our system is truly “universal”. Overcrowded ERs, waiting lists that
stretch for years, and underfunding of essential services are just some of the
obstacles between Canadians and the care they need.
Many critics of the current health care system cite the inability to pay
for expedited or superior treatment as a crucial flaw. Stories abound in
newspapers and online of patients who, faced with months of delays before they
could even be diagnosed, sought care abroad and found help within weeks.
What they neglect to mention is that this
very “fix” to the system would completely undermine everything that Tommy
Douglas fought to establish in 1962. Allowing those with money to skip lines and
buy their own advantage is a large part of the problem that currently plagues
the United States. Recently the widening economic gap has been brought to the
forefront of the public eye due to the “Occupy” movements across North America.
Is it a wise idea to introduce that same discord into an area where currently
all citizens have an equal right to?
The answer is not to replace an ineffective system with one that is
simply altogether broken. As a personal supporter of the structure of the
current system, I also do not advise broad sweeping changes take place. Instead,
analysis of the criticism reveals that complaints can, for the most part, be
categorized into two fields: long waits for a common treatment caused by higher
demand than the government can meet, and poor ability to treat patients due to
the lack of the appropriate technology in Canadian facilities. The latter case
most often ends with the afflicted seeking care internationally. It is clear
then, that to meet the demands of the most unsatisfied Canadians a method must
be found to increase the ability to care for common ailments. I would suggest to
Canadian policy makers that the immediate remedy is to encourage the hiring of
more “frontline” healthcare professionals, such as registered nurses. It is a
simple fact that nurses are the day to day face of health care, and currently
Canada is suffering from a shortage of qualified workers. By growing the
workforce, Canada can quickly increase the quality of patient care without major
infrastructural changes. The benefits of more nurses are numerous, from the
increased ability to closely monitor patients due to a lower patient-nurse
ratio, to increased manpower to distribute urgent time-sensitive medication such
as during the H1N1 epidemic in 2009.
Canada does not need a new health care system. Canada needs a streamlined
health care system. The first step is the hiring of more health care
professionals. Further into the future more restrictions should be removed to
expedite the treatment of simple ailments. As a rough analogy, a mechanic does
not need an engineer to inspect a car every time something goes wrong; why isn’t
a nurse fully capable of administering treatment in common, non-serious cases?
The understanding of medical science has advanced beyond requiring a doctorate
to diagnose a cold. It is time our treatment standards did the same.