Medical experts say it has been a long time for Canada to reform its health care systems to better protect patients in the future.
Flaws in Canada’s health care system became apparent amid COVID-19, and a recent report showing that thousands of Canadians died from delayed or canceled procedures serves as another example .
NS Report published by the Canadian Medical Association CMA President Dr. Katharine Smart said Tuesday, stressing the need for governments to create a “sustainable system” for the Canadian people – and soon.
“The issue – part of it is dollars and more investments. Part of it is to better understand and invest in human health resources. And part of it is modernizing a system so that it helps Canadians and patients in our country.” to serve better.”
“We need to move forward with action. There has been a lot of talk, a lot of system studies, and now is the time to really come to the table and develop some solutions and implement them.”
The CMA report, prepared in partnership with Deloitte, detailed the widespread impact of the pandemic on society.
Among its findings is an estimate that more than 4,000 people died between August and December 2020 as a result of delays or cancellations of health care services from hospitals dealing with COVID-19 patients.
During the waves of the pandemic in Canada, provinces have experienced a surge in hospital capacity, which has caused non-essential operations to be shifted to the back-burner. For example, since August, Alberta Health Services said surgeries for more than 15,000 patients had been canceled or postponed as the province battled a rise in new COVID infections.
The researchers looked at eight different types of surgery scheduled across Canada between April 2020 and June 2021 as a means of measuring the delay affecting patients.
Canada had an average waiting period of 46 days for breast cancer surgery during that time frame. MRI scans came with an average wait of 69 days. Hip replacement surgery is delayed by an average of 118 days.
The report concludes that an estimated $1.3 billion in additional funding is needed to restore waiting times for those surgeries to return to pre-COVID levels by June 2022. But this number could be higher when the impact of the fourth wave of the pandemic is taken into account.
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Smart said the figure is just a preview of what is needed to get health care back on track.
“This is just a snapshot of the types of procedures and surgeries that have been delayed throughout the pandemic. The real impact is much broader than that. That $1.3 billion amount to get us back on track is really just a starting point for what is needed for this system.”
Among the findings of the report was that two-thirds of Canadians living with chronic diseases had difficulty accessing care in 2020. It also noted a rise in opioid-related deaths – up to 20 per day in the first three months of 2021.
For Dr. Naheed Dosani, Health Equity Lead at Kensington Health in Toronto, the report suggests there is a need to modernize health care systems so that “we don’t see these downstream consequences” in the future.
He suggested virtual care, which was brought to the fore during the pandemic, be leveraged with in-person visits so that doctors can meet with patients earlier in the trajectory of a disease.
He said governments also need to increase funding for outreach teams that engage with the homeless and people facing serious illness in communities.
“Loss reduction and scaling up of secure supply programs are a big part of that,” he said. “There are some policy changes that can be made to better support reform in our health systems.”
In a speech to the throne last week, the federal government reinforced its commitment to help improve health care systems and reduce the surgery backlog.
But that overhaul is needed to understand what is not working, Dosani said, pointing to the long-term care sector, which was severely hit by COVID-19.
“Many long-term care workers, especially nurses and PSWs, have precarious jobs. They do not have adequate paid sick-leave benefits. They don’t have full-time roles, even if they want them. This leads to a decline in services and a decline in the actual quality of care.”
“We need to elevate the conversation from the minimum standard of care to really making long-term care and other areas of health care more flexible, and the way you do that, you invest in staffing and you Invest in people.”
Staffing shortages across the country put professionals like Dr. Laura Horiluk in difficult situations during the pandemic.
Horiluk, a critical care doctor in Toronto, told Granthshala News that she had seen a lot of “heartbreaking situations” where people with chronic illnesses couldn’t get care, or were afraid to get care and die.
“There is nothing more heartbreaking than being in the ICU and seeing it unfold to you and let the disease go so far,” she said.
“You can be there in the last moments of someone’s life and help their family and loved ones, but that’s not where you want to be.”
In his view, while governments need to invest more money, they also need to come up with elaborate plans that include training and retaining health care workers to replace those leaving the industry.
“We need a plan because with Omicron, and I’m sure we’re going to see other forms of COVID, we can’t get through…