Wherever I go, and with whomever I converse, eventually the conversation goes to the unsatisfactory condition of the health and long-term care system in New Brunswick! Readers of these columns keep asking: is anyone listening? Aren’t you getting discouraged? Do you think anything will really change?
Those questions are framed against decades of growing deterioration of health care at the very basic level as described in the last commentary. The other element framing the discussion is that the Higgs government had a large plank in its platform promising reform of health and long-term care. Expectations have been running high as the first attempt was scrapped, a promised series of public consultations seemed to proceed during the midst of lock-down, followed by the announcement of “a plan for health and long-term care reform”, however tentative, was announced in the fall of 2021.
What puzzles those who are raise the questions is: if the issues are so serious and there seems to have been public mood supporting significant improvement, why does nothing appear to be happening? Why do such “basic things” show no signs of improvement?
Primary Health Care is the bedrock of any health care system for it is the entry point to getting health and long-term care problems dealt with efficiently and effectively. Without access to either a great interdisciplinary primary health clinic or to a primary health care physician, the patient has no one to advocate for his health care needs. Just try, as too many of my friends are forced to do, having an after-hours clinic as your main source of access to the care you need. It is not at all a pretty picture.
Andrew Waugh’s article in the Telegraph on Friday, April 8, 2022 reported that the family physician wait list has now grown to 55,000; many suggest that is a conservative number when they observe that many who have been on the list for years have just given up. Not exactly a testimonial for a socialized health system in which access to primary health care is enshrined in the Canada Health Act. No wonder the Canadian health care system ranks so low on the OECD list comparing us with other western world countries!
Ken McGeorge, BS,DHA,CHE is a career health care executive based in Fredericton, NB, Canada.