Jump­ing the line

Physi­cian in­de­pen­dence can­not trump right of those who pay to be treated fairly

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - OPINION - BY DAVE BUL­GER David M. Bul­ger of Corn­wall is Ad­junct Pro­fes­sor (re­tired), UPEI

Ques­tion: When is a “wait­ing list” not a wait­ing list?

An­swer: When you don’t ac­tu­ally have to wait.

A cou­ple of years ago, through no fault of my own, I found my­self with­out a fam­ily doc­tor. This meant, of course, that I would have to join the many peo­ple on the in­fa­mous “pa­tient registry” and wait my turn.

I made peace with my sit­u­a­tion. I was in pretty good health, and on the other side of the coin, I am at that stage in life where I watch many of my con­tem­po­raries pass on, so I might never get off the list any­way.

(I was not pre­pared for the se­cond-class med­i­cal treat­ment I was go­ing to get — some­thing for a se­cond ar­ti­cle — but oth­er­wise I ac­cepted my lot).

Still and all, not hav­ing a fam­ily physi­cian can kind of bub­ble up as a con­cern from time to time. There have been times when I have thought that it would be great if I could con­tact one physi­cian I know slightly, or pos­si­bly have my wife ask her doc if there was any pos­si­bil­ity of be­ing taken on as a pa­tient, but of course, in an egal­i­tar­ian sys­tem where peo­ple must wait their turn to rise to the top of the registry, such things are not pos­si­ble. Right? Wrong. My re­search on wait times sent me to, of all places, a web page main­tained by the P.E.I. As­so­ci­a­tion of New­com­ers, deal­ing with med­i­cal care.

Did I find some­thing like: “There is usu­ally a wait­ing list for a fam­ily clin­i­cian in P.E.I. so please be pa­tient”? No. What I found was: “There is usu­ally a wait­ing list for a fam­ily clin­i­cian in P.E.I. Af­ter you are reg­is­tered, you might be able to find one sooner if you:

Ask friends or rel­a­tives to check with their fam­ily doc­tor or nurse prac­ti­tioner if he or she is tak­ing new pa­tients;

Look in the Yel­low Pages of your tele­phone book un­der ‘Physicians’ or ‘Nurse Prac­ti­tion­ers’ and con­tact them di­rectly;

Ask any gen­eral prac­ti­tioner with whom you come in con­tact if he or she is tak­ing new pa­tients.”

As it hap­pens, I was in the middle of a cor­re­spon­dence with the new min­is­ter. I asked him if what I have quoted above was the case, and he con­firmed that it was.

He cited the in­de­pen­dence of in­di­vid­ual physicians and the lack of govern­ment con­trol over this in­de­pen­dence.

This is sim­ply un­ac­cept­able. Ev­ery time some­one jumps the line, those of us who are on the registry ef­fec­tively move back­ward.

If we are go­ing to main­tain a pub­lic, egal­i­tar­ian sys­tem of health care de­liv­ery, then physi­cian in­de­pen­dence can­not trump the right of those who pay for the sys­tem to be treated fairly. And line jump­ing is not fair. (And if noth­ing else, it puts vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple into a kind of com­pe­ti­tion, sort of like rats scrab­bling over the few pieces of flot­sam as the ship goes down).

Clearly, our pub­lic, egal­i­tar­ian sys­tem re­quires the govern­ment to act. Quickly.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.