Task Force Warns Government that Changes Happening Too Fast, Too Soon in Health Care
Jan 28, 2018
In the days leading up to the holiday season, the Provincial Government released a long-awaited report from the Wait Times Reduction Task Force, which was to examine the current state of emergency departments, surgery, and diagnostic testing across Manitoba.
Overall, the report acknowledges what MGEU has been saying for a long time: that the government is moving too far, too fast with its health care changes. The Task Force advises more cautious movement by government and more consultation with patients and staff. It is our sincere hope this wise advice is heeded.
We are very concerned about the call to privatize inter-facility transfers (IFTs) in the EMS system. Families should be aware that this could have serious implications for patients if appropriate staff is not being utilized for IFTs. This is a situation where health care dollars are being cut when improved patient care should be the guiding principle.
One positive sign is that serious consideration is being given to increased use of community paramedicine in the health care system. The MGEU has been an advocate for community paramedicine for many years – believing it’s good for patients and good for the health care system as a whole because it is a more efficient and effective use of health care dollars. The MGEU is also supportive of the report’s recommendation that there be a province-wide EMS policy and approach, even if some of the actual services are delivered by the community. We have been calling for this kind of approach for many years.
An area of interest to Manitoba paramedics is also the possibility of implementing the Collaborative Emergency Care (CEC) model in rural Manitoba, which would see an on-site paramedic and nurse provide overnight staffing at some facilities without an emergency room. The CEC model, which is currently in use in Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan, allows patients to be evaluated and subsequently either booked into a community clinic the next day or transported to a nearby emergency room when a higher level of care is required.
Other recommendations in the report include plans to more heavily rely on Telehealth and video-conferencing to deliver services, a new protocol for paramedics to bypass local facilities for patients experiencing trauma or stroke, and a new central intake process for some services. We understand that many of the recommended changes are contingent on changes in other areas of health care. The recommendation to proceed cautiously and slowly is again of great importance.
fundamental problem with the government’s health care “transformation” has been
that their approach seems to be heavy on talking about improving patient
care while they cut hundreds of millions of dollars from the system. It is our
union’s position that resources cannot be cut to this extent while expecting
patient care to improve. So far, the health care experiment being undertaken
has been a money-driven exercise, not a patient care driven exercise, and that
should be concerning to all Manitobans. In particular, we know rural
communities are very concerned, and we’re disappointed this report doesn’t
offer reassurance that they are going to get the services they deserve.
care services are already feeling the pressures of shortages in people and
funding. Cuts and privatization are simply not the answer. Manitobans have
worked hard to build a health care system that will be there for them in their
communities. Yes, changes are necessary in some areas and we can make better
use of resources in others. But improved patient care should always be the
motivation for such changes, not the bottom line.
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