Sunday, January 6, 2008

Canada's new Olympic sport: Jumping the health-care waiting list

Dr. Arnie Aberman wrote in “Queue jumpers at the Ministry of Health”, (National Post, Nov.3, 2007):

"Re: Torontonians Willing To Jump Health Care Queues, Study Finds, Oct. 27.
The finding of the University of Toronto emergency medicine physicians that many Torontonians would pull strings to jump a health care queue was not surprising to me. When I was dean of the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine (1992-1999), hardly a week went by in which I was not asked by colleagues to assist them in expediting care. I also was contacted by staff of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care to get preferred access to care. Many of those making the requests were publicly vocal in their support of a "single tier" system and were apparently blind to their hypocrisy.”

Dr. Paul Fenie Jr. wrote in “Three doctors weigh in on queue jumping”, (National Post, Nov.6, 2007):

“Re: Torontonians Willing To Jump Health Care Queues, Study Finds, Oct. 27, Queue Jumpers At The Ministry Of Health, letter to the editor, Nov. 2

I am glad to see that Dr. Aberman had the courage to begin telling the medical story as it is. This country has a shortage of more than 5,000 family physicians, and hundreds of anaesthetists, surgeons, pediatricians, etc. Yet the medical authorities here continually refuse to accept and recognize those with medical qualifications from countries such as England, France, Germany and Spain. I find it very disturbing and, quite frankly, unacceptable that medical authorities such as provincial colleges of physicians and surgeons, university faculties of medicine and the royal colleges of physicians and surgeons of Canada care only for their egos and not the suffering of patients. I suppose I am only beginning to learn of the reality of medicine in Canada. And to think I once believed that moral and ethical behaviour guided medical care here.”

Dr. Dominick Amato wrote in the National Post (Nov.6, 2007): "Dr. Arnie Aberman, discloses that many people, some from the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long term Care, approached him to obtain preferred access to health care when he was dean of the University of Toronto's Faculty of medicine in the 1900s. It would be interesting to to know: Did Dr. Aberman point out their hypocrisy to these people and turn down their requests for queue-jumping, or did he exacerbate the problem by accommodating them?"

For a moment I thought Amato was going to write: '...Did Dr. Aberman point out their hypocrisy to these people and TURN THEM OVER TO THE PROPER AUTHORITIES, namely to the Liberal Health Commissar's Secretariat for Queue-Jumping Investigations and Enforcement, Morals and Values Division?!?
Is Amato for real? Will the Hippocratic oath soon include some sort of 'Hypocritical-sensing-and-judgement' test given to potential patients by vigilante medical moralists?
This is a scenario right out of Soviet times.
It would be interesting to know how many patients Dr. Amato couldn't accommodate who were subject to exacerbating wait-times? Would Amato turn down a patient in medical need at the back of the line, for a patient who is in less dire circumstances, but is at the front of the line? What moral preaching does Amato then dispense ?

Dr. Erik Larsen wrote in the National Post (Nov.6, 2007): "Physicians jumping health care queues? I'm looking forward to the next study: "Friends of bartenders sometimes get free drinks."

Dr. F.W. Furlong wrote in “Health care hypocrisy: two more examples”, (National Post, Nov.7, 2007):

“Re: Queue Jumpers At The Ministry Of Health, Nov. 3.

Earlier this year, I encountered a fellow physician from Ottawa who told me how she contracted with the Department of National Defence at an hourly rate somewhat over 40% higher than OHIP paid. She was delighted to add this also covered paperwork. I asked her if she thought this constituted two-tier medicine. She replied that it was all covered by legislation. "The politicians and generals and officials who tell the rest of us what we may have passed a law allowing themselves more, at our expense," so she felt it was quite legal and "outside of" the Canada Health Act.
I suppose moral blindness is potentially quite complete. She went on to tell me how firmly she believed in the Canada Health Act "for everyone else." Just not for her. Thus the argument rests that this is not two-tiered if a law says it is not, even if it really is. And as these creatures inevitably argue, these rules really apply to others, not to higher-purpose persons such as themselves who have such exalted views.
Hypocrisy is as Canadian as hockey, lacrosse and maple syrup. Look around you. If you dare.”

Richard K. Baker wrote in “Health care hypocrisy: two more examples”, (National Post, Nov.7, 2007):

"I don't find it surprising that Ontario Health Ministry officials would try to jump the queue, as a former dean of the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine recounted in his earlier letter. Queue- jumping is a uniquely Canadian phenomenon -- perhaps it should be a demonstration sport at our 2010 Olympics.
It is one thing for apologists for our flawed medical system to insist that maintaining the status quo trumps the rights of individual patients. It is quite another thing when these same people find themselves waiting in interminably long lines. And when these people are unable to jump the queue, notwithstanding their influence, they contact our organization. Over the years we have expedited private medical procedures for physicians, RNs and politicians. We recently expedited a medical procedure for the wife of a provincial deputy minister of health.
We pass no judgment on any (ethical) means of expediting medical care, no matter whom the client may be."

Hopefully the McCreith/Holmes health-care Charter challenge against Ontario's medicare-monopoly will trump the oppression wielded by the apologists for the status-quo.

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