An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
HAVE YOU EVER felt you needed to talk to a doctor but didn’t do so because a) you knew it would be weeks before you could get an appointment or, b) you didn’t want to impose a burden on the healthcare system?
I’m betting the answer to that question is ‘yes.’ In fact, I’m betting most people have found themselves in that situation in recent years.
The common piece of advice from the system is: “If your symptoms don’t resolve themselves, or if they become worse, seek medical help.”
With the challenges of getting in front of a healthcare practitioner these days, that means the most direct route is a trip to the emergency room at the local hospital. There, you will be triaged and — unless you have an immediate crisis such as heart pain — pointed to a chair in the waiting room and advised to wait.
That wait could be several hours; we’ve all read the stories about people who have died waiting for help.
It’s the kind of situation talked about by family doctor Carllin Man, quoted on the eve of a meeting of health ministers in Vancouver as saying that more and more patients aren’t able to access their family doctors and are pushed to emergency rooms that, themselves, are struggling with a crushing workload.
Will it become permanent? The issue is money. The provinces demand significantly more money in the form of health transfers from the federal government. The federal government, in response, wants the provinces to present a comprehensive plan for how that additional money will be spent.
Both points of view are understandable but as the argument goes on, the quality of our once proud healthcare system continues to decline. Based on comments the provincial and federal reps made yesterday, it seems unlikely they’ll reach a consensus.
And that doesn’t bode well for the future of the system. As Dr. Man said, we may soon look wistfully back to when we could rely on our healthcare system for prompt, efficient service rather than wondering if we’ll get help before it’s too late.
I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at email@example.com.