Hospital wait times need work

Preventative services would shorten patient waits.

Dear editor,

The recently published Canadian Wait Time Alliance Report Card on wait times for medical care in Canada contains two findings that should make members of the public and policy makers take note.

The report estimates that one in six hospital beds are now occupied by patients who do not require acute care services but who end up in hospital due to a shortage of preventative, community-based health services. Wait times are best addressed by improving the entire health care continuum and investing in primary health care services, including home support and residential care, that will improve quality of care for seniors and keep them out of expensive and inappropriate hospital beds.

The report also notes the important role played by the federal government in setting national health strategies and facilitating their implementation.

Much progress has been made in reducing wait times in the five areas identified as priorities by federal, provincial and territorial governments under the 2004 Health Accord. Unfortunately, the federal government has stated that after the current Health Accord expires in 2014, it will continue to provide some funding, but no leadership for health care.

This isn’t good enough. Our publicly funded health care system requires the shared commitment and cooperation of Ottawa and the provinces.

Rick Turner

Co-chair, BC Health Coalition

Vancouver

 

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