Nobody really knows whether Doug Ford’s idea of setting up stand-alone surgical clinics will work or not, but at least it’s worth a try. What won’t work is to simply throw more money at the system as it is. Whenever these kinds of suggestions come up, opponents raise the specter of “privatization.” The fact is, a significant amount of the system is already privatized. Certainly, the majority of family doctors are in effect independent businesspeople. They bill the health ministry, and deduct their expenses like rent and staff, and keep what’s left over. What’s left over is called profit. The private sector also plays a significant role in blood and fluid testing, X-rays and ultra sound. Pharmacies are playing an increasing role in vaccinations, and now are being allowed to prescribe certain common drugs.
We will have to see if the clinics will drain needed staff away from the hospital system. It probably won’t take surgeons out of the system, since most of them only get a few hours access to operating rooms per week as it is and have surplus capacity. It could have an impact on nurses, although a London doctor who is already working in a pilot stand-alone surgical clinic, said in an interview on Global last week that a lot of nurses who left the field would be interested in coming back if they could work 9 to 5 in these clinics.
COVID has laid bare the flaws in our healthcare system, especially in that frightening first year of the pandemic when we had neither vaccine nor a treatment. We’ve lost many health care professionals to burnout, Young people don’t want to come into a system that appears to be in crisis mode 24/7. Ford didn’t dream this idea up on his own, he’s been talking to people in the health care field, maybe not the ones the Ontario Hospital Association, the unions and the NDP would favour, but people with ideas and expertise nonetheless.
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