Re: Health Minister Vows Action On Illegal Double Billing (June 12); Paying To End Their Pain (Focus, June 10): This is exactly the conversation about our beleaguered public health-care system we need to have.
For too long, our patients have suffered from the constraints of a system that no longer works. They wait to see a specialist and then they wait again for surgery, often with their conditions deteriorating and more often than not in pain. That so many seek private medical assistance is not surprising. It’s only surprising that it’s taking all of our partners in health care – the federal and provincial ministries, the regional health authorities, and the hospitals – so long to respond to the suffering of the taxpayers who fund the system.
Many of our members have come up with innovative solutions, but we are only one cog in the wheel and we must have the co-operation and leadership of our partners in health care to provide the proper and prompt access to orthopedic care that all our patients deserve.
Alastair Younger, President, Kevin Wing, immediate Past President, B.C. Orthopaedic Association
Victoria, BC- Our country’s beloved and beleaguered universal healthcare system was created over 50 years ago. At that time, only 10% of the population was 65 or older. By 2030, this age group will make up 25% of the population. This is also the group that requires the most orthopaedic care – to relieve pain and restore mobility impaired by degenerative conditions. Sadly, our healthcare system at the national, provincial and regional levels has not kept pace with the demand, and our patients do not have timely access to the care they need.
The BC Orthopaedic Association calls on our national and provincial governments – our partners in healthcare — to help us provide immediate care for all urgent orthopaedic problems and appropriate care within 90 days for all other non-emergency orthopaedic problems.
In our province right now, many innovative approaches and new programs already underway offer solutions to the issues we face in providing the best and most timely care. We have gathered solid data that supports these new initiatives and are happy to share both the quantitative and qualitative research we have done to date.
Orthopaedic healthcare teams need the financial and management resources to deliver the best and most affordable care possible. Centralized, multi-disciplinary in-take clinics have been identified as one of the ways to streamline and speed up the assessment and treatment of orthopaedic issues for most patients. But these innovative models need sufficient hospital resources to make sure all orthopaedic patients can get timely surgical solutions when needed. There are also human resource issues we must all tackle to get the system working optimally.
BC orthopaedic surgeons have created a library of videos detailing their experiences with our healthcare system and what excessive wait times for consultations and surgeries have meant to the well-being of their patients. Click here for the videos.
Dr. Kevin Wing takes us for a look inside the highly-efficient orthopaedic unit at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, BC. The methods and set-up have dramatically speeded up care for orthopaedic patients.
Have a tour of this one-stop shop for all orthopaedic care in Victoria, BC. CEO and Founder Stefan Fletcher and orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Peter Dryden show us how this innovative program has dramatically reduced wait times for patients to have their first orthopaedic consult.
Dr. Kate Ball, an orthopaedic surgeon operating in Vernon, BC, points out how the agony of orthopaedic patients waiting for years for simple surgical procedures can be alleviated. Unfortunately, too many still wait too long for these procedures and it affects their lives significantly.
Kelowna, BC orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Derek Plausinis talks about the need for coordinated care, both surgical and non-surgical, for all orthopaedic patients. Long wait times and patients living in pain are the result when this coordination is lacking.
Prince George, BC orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Mike Moran describes that being allocated only seven hours per week in the operating room means the valuable time and training of highly-skilled orthopaedic surgeons goes to waste.
Almost 80% of respondents to a recent BC Orthopaedic Association survey said they support Dr. Brian Day’s court case asking for private insurance. Over three-quarters (76%) favour having a hybrid private/public healthcare system like that of the United Kingdom, and almost 58% want to see substantive and innovative changes to the current system. Not one respondent opted for “status quo.”
“We recently conducted an anonymous on-line survey of our membership about the important issue of ‘access to care’. We had 82 responses; an excellent return from the 150 practicing orthopaedic surgeons in our province. The results were not surprising, but provide quantifiable information about our experience that we are keen to share with the media, the public and our patients,” said Dr. Kevin Wing, Past President of the BCOA and an orthopaedic surgeon at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver.
The majority (66%) of BCOA members responding to the survey do not believe their non-emergency patients are seen for their first diagnostic consultation within a reasonable period of time, and even more of them (83%) do not believe their patients get surgery within a reasonable period of time.
Over half (57%) of the respondents said the average waiting time for them to see these GP-referred patients is one to six months. Another 40% said it was their experience that this period was between seven and 18 months.
Almost three-quarters of those surveyed (73%) said their patients wait between four months to a year for surgery after the initial diagnosis. Only 7% get surgery in under three months and a similar number (6%) wait one to two years.
Almost one-quarter (24%) of respondents spend 100% of their time on MSP or WorkSafeBC patients and another 64% spend only up to 10% of their time on work that is not MSP or WSBC.
“Our membership believes this issue to be of vital importance to everyone in our province and indeed, to all Canadians. We are dedicated to the health and safety of our patients and always want to be part of working towards improving our healthcare systems,” Dr. Wing said.