A sleight of facts?

Health P.E.I. fails to ex­plain all the in­for­ma­tion about doc­tors, pa­tients etc.

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - OPINION - BY ALAN MACPHEE Alan E. MacPhee is chair­man, Is­land­wide Hos­pi­tal Ac­cess.

By the gen­eral di­rec­tion of gov­ern­ment, it ap­pears that lead­er­ship doesn’t want to let the facts get in the way of a good story. The un­of­fi­cial, yet of­fi­cial, di­rec­tive by pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment lead­er­ship to only com­mu­ni­cate ‘good news’ is most dis­turb­ing.

This is a de­lib­er­ate ef­fort to leave out facts that do not fit a de­sired nar­ra­tive. It is a de­lib­er­ate at­tempt to ig­nore cer­tain in­con­ve­nient truths. It is an ef­fort to mis­lead. It is fake news, in a word – it is de­ceit. Though de­ceit has been part of po­lit­i­cal be­haviour ever since there has been pol­i­tics, when lead­ers is­sue a di­rec­tive and that di­rec­tive is pro­moted by gov­ern­ment func­tionar­ies, it is in a realm be­yond be­ing slip­pery; this be­haviour un­der­mines the love of truth which is a cor­ner­stone of demo­cratic prin­ci­ples, of jus­tice and of re­li­gious and eth­i­cal ob­ser­vance.

Gov­ern­ment func­tionar­ies pro­mot­ing such fak­ery de­serve our pity but cer­tainly not our sub­servience. We must refuse this Pollyanna of de­ceit of half news and in­sist as in Anne of Green Gables for ‘the facts, the facts, the facts.”

For in­stance, Heath P.E.I. tells us and ex­pects us to be­lieve that P.E.I. ranks as one of the best in the coun­try with 85 per cent of peo­ple hav­ing a doc­tor ver­sus 75 per cent in Canada. Yep, it’s good news if you say it of­ten enough how­ever, it is not true.

HPEI fails to tell you that P.E.I. has con­sis­tently had the low­est num­ber of doc­tors per 1,000 pa­tients in the coun­try which leads to be­ing among the worst wait times to see a doc­tor. In­stead of hir­ing more doc­tors, the prov­ince is as­sign­ing nurse prac­ti­tion­ers, who, though valu­able, have a lim­ited ca­pa­bil­ity.

HPEI doesn’t tell you that it is lim­it­ing pa­tient vis­i­ta­tion to doc­tors or that men­tal health re­sources are grossly in­ad­e­quate or that Health P.E.I. is con­tin­u­ally los­ing spe­cial­ists and key med­i­cal di­rec­tors be­cause the ad­min­is­tra­tion sys­tem is bro­ken. HPEI doesn’t tell you that it has an ad­min­is­tra­tion three times the na­tional av­er­age, yet P.E.I. has the low­est per capita spend­ing on health­care in Canada.

Health P.E.I. tells us there is only 4,500 peo­ple on the pa­tient reg­istry and that it is mean­ing­ful and work­ing. How­ever, there is more than dou­ble the amount of peo­ple wait­ing for a doc­tor but HPEI has parked them in­stead of list­ing them so they do not count.

It is a sleight of fact that only HPEI or an imag­i­na­tive fouryear-old could con­coct. By their own ad­mis­sion, HPEI pa­tient reg­istry re­ports have over dou­ble the peo­ple listed as need­ing a doc­tor. The reg­istry is be­yond fake news, it is just fake, yet HPEI man­age­ment in­sists on paint­ing its pic­ture with th­ese half-truths.

The pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment will even­tu­ally be con­fronted by Abe Lin­coln’s, “You can fool all the peo­ple some of the time, and some of the peo­ple all the time, but you can­not fool all the peo­ple all the time.”

Lead­er­ship and man­age­ment must change its ap­proach to re­port­ing facts or we must change our lead­er­ship and man­age­ment. If not our souls, than at the very least, our so­ci­ety de­pends upon it. In this in­stance, not only we can do bet­ter, we must do bet­ter.

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