By now, only the tone-deaf fail to understand that health and long-term care services are in need of reform. Not change, but reform. Traditional, conventional thinking and organization has gotten us to the point of serious inequity in access to effective primary care services, access to timely specialist services, access to urgent and emergency care, timely and effective mental health services, timely and efficient access to long-term care. The good news is, and it is really sad good news, that all provinces are struggling with these issues, some more than others, some at different levels than others.
In each of the regions of this province the practical manifestations of challenges with these issues varies. For instance, the worst of access to urgent and emergency care, as well as routine primary care, is apparently in urban areas, according to observations made by those directing Health Reform. There are many good reasons for the disparity.
By now we are all sick to death of the pandemic! People are restless, depressed, frustrated, tired of following what often seem to be illogical rules, pushed to get vaccinated, never knowing if they can see loved ones, and more.
Let me be clear: my wife and I have been loyal subjects, following every rule that is imposed on us without public complaint and taking every vaccination made available. I am no anti-vaxxer, not even close. But I do respect the rights of those whose opinions differ from mine to express their opinions in a mature, controlled manner without shouting and without nasty language. We are a population of persons, all of us from different cultures, educational backgrounds; some of us steeped in science, some very suspicious, some having become amateur virologists during the pandemic.
Health Minister Shephard touched a nerve with the now former Horizon Board Chair recently by suggesting that the Department of Health should be more active in the recruitment and appointment of doctors in New Brunswick. The board chair, according to the CBC report, was not impressed suggesting that is not the role of the Department of Health.
Actually, during the term of Premier Bernard Lord there was a similar attempt to involve the Department of Health more assertively in the physician recruitment process and that, according to prominent civil servants of the day, did not work well.
Under the laws that govern the operation of the health and long-term care system in New Brunswick, the appointment of physicians is absolutely critical. Diagnostic Tests, most prescription medications, admission to and discharge from a care facility, access to most major therapies, even some drivers’ and pilots’ licenses and insurance applications, and so much more, are dependent on the physician. The position that physicians have traditionally played in health care is unique and powerful.
Nursing is, along with Medicine and other health care professionals, a major part of the backbone of the healthcare system. A noble profession with roots in the image of Florence Nightingale. The profession, in modern times, has grown into huge numbers as its public image has remained high. And why not? These professionals have helped deliver your children, assisted in the Operating Room, managed the Operating Room, cared for your dying mother, and have dealt with many patients who are not always the sweetest customers in the world!