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Letters April 14: B.C.'s health-care failure; should we just get it all over with?

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A closure sign on the door of the Cook Street Village Medical Clinic earlier this month. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Three quick questions for the health minister

Another week, another walk-in clinic closes its doors in Victoria and another letter from a heartbroken physician is published in the Times Colonist. Most recently, an outstanding letter from the perspective of an emergency physician, highlighting the effect of the primary care crisis on our emergency departments.

Last week a hard-working family physician, frustrated and exhausted. And still Health Minister Adrian Dix continues to recite the worn-out party line that the Urgent Care Centres will save the day, someday, despite all the evidence to the contrary.

Dix has had the job for five years. During his watch, hundreds of physicians have closed their offices and hundreds of thousands of patients have been orphaned at an untold cost to their health and well-being.

I think therefore that the electorate deserves that Dix have a job review, starting with some honest facts.

He has been asked repeatedly to provide metrics on the UPCC experiment and has steadfastly refused. We understand the government has paid more than $100 million on their creation. One can reasonably assume the results are not good, or we would have been treated to glitzy TV infomercials touting the “UPCC miracle in B.C.!”

Can I make it simple for Dix? For a start, three basic questions for him to answer honestly and factually:

1. How many physicians are still needed to fully staff the existing clinics? I understand none is fully staffed. Why are they not coming if these centres are so wonderful? (First hint: It’s not the weather.)

2. Of the 100,000 patients looking for a doctor, how many patients have been rostered to a clinic in the Capital Regional District and have longitudinal care today? (Second hint: it’s less than 3,000.)

3. What is the real cost of a patient visit to a UPCC. (Third hint: it’s $35 in a GP’s office.)

Time for some honesty, and frankly some new leadership.

Peter Gladstone MD, FRCP(C), MPH
Victoria

Maternity doctors hard to find

I have learned that due to a decreasing number of physicians who care for maternity patients in the Victoria and adjacent municipalities, obtaining a physician to care for and deliver your baby could be difficult to find!

Just as we are experiencing difficulties in obtaining a family physician, it will become increasingly difficult to find a maternity physician who will care for you during your pregnancy and then deliver your baby.

Is it not time to seriously begin to restructure the system and not just offer Band-Aid solutions? This is Canada; are we not supposed to be a country that offers the best medical care in the world to its citizens?

Ross Ferguson
Victoria

Spend the money on family physicians

I’m in complete agreement with what emergency physician Dr. Jason Wale said in his commentary on April 12.

I said all along that Urgent Care Centres would be a disaster, and they are. The one in James Bay drove my doctor out of her office.

You can’t expect elderly patients with complex care issues to stand in a lineup with people at 7:30 in the morning to try and see a doctor. Many, many patients need ongoing, personalized care because of their many issues.

This can’t be done by a doctor at an Urgent Care Centre. This can only be done by family physicians. These Urgent Care Centres have been a complete waste of money.

The money should have been spent on paying doctors what they’re worth, hiring more doctors, hiring more nurse practitioners to help the doctors and hiring more nurses. I don’t know why this was so hard to figure out.

It’s just common sense.

Diane Ball
James Bay

Take the advice from people doing the job

Dr. Jason Wale is to be commended for his succinct April 12 critique of the B.C. medical system.

In reflecting on his comments, I was drawn to a well-established principle I learned in a management course years ago that if you are trying to fix a problem, ask the people actually doing the job about the problem is and how they would fix it.

Regrettably, that seems to be a principle that escapes politicians and government bureaucrats, as somehow there seems to be long-standing belief within that somehow they know best, not the professionals actually doing the real work.

Being in my early 80s, I have watched a steady decline in the quality of health care over the past half-century to the point that I have to question if the system is not close to a total collapse and, in some cases, arguably, already has collapsed.

Hundred of thousands of people in B.C. have no primary-care physician. When I know our own GP closes his office at 5 p.m. and spends the next several hours doing unpaid bureaucratic paperwork, why then would any young medical-school graduate consider a job that is underpaid to start with and which you are expected to contribute a half a day or more of unpaid work just to sustain government bureaucracy?

I would suggest that Health Minister Adrian Dix and his predecessors seem totally incapable of grasping the concept. I seriously doubt that anyone within any government ministry is expected to contribute unpaid time to their position.

Governments across Canada have thrown huge sums of money at the health-care system with little or no return. As a nation, we rank about 10th in per-capita health-care expenditures and 30th in the quality of health care based on World Health Organization data.

The question is: Why are we not in the top 10 globally in terms of health care?

Dr. Wale has answered that — nobody in government cares to take the advice of those actually doing the job as somehow they know better and we all pay the price.

James P. Crowley
North Saanich

It’s too late, let’s just get it over with

“Since Adam and Eve, man has never refrained from any folly of which he is capable. The End.” (Bertrand Russell).

On April 4, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said investing in new fossil-fuel infrastructure would be “moral and economic madness.”

On April 6, Canada approved the Bay du Nord oil project, which will produce one billion barrels of oil.

Let’s do it right: suck all the oil and gas from the ground and burn it, or pour it in the sea; cut all the trees, strain the fish from the ocean. Evidence shows we are not capable of caring for future generations; the sooner we get things over, the less the suffering will be.

Amanda Vaughan
Black Creek

Stop talking, Canada, and start doing

Re: “Handling Russia the Canadian way,” letter, April 12.

I want to thank the letter-writer who gave us such an accurate and thorough description of the elaborate sham processes that our governments engage in time after time, no matter what the topic.

Unclean drinking water on reserves, military hardware procurement, doctor shortages and just about any other election promise ever made by any level of government becomes just another can they can kick down the road in hopes that we, the electorate, will forget about it given enough time.

Meanwhile, as the letter-writer explained, bureaucrats and others with their snouts in the trough just keep on gorging themselves while nothing worthwhile ever gets done in this country.

The rest of the world needs Canada to stop talking and to actually start doing.

Len Dafoe
Nanoose Bay

At least we’re not hurting anyone’s feelings

Re “Handling Russia the Canadian way,” letter, April 12.

The letter hit the nail on the head. It explained exactly how Canada handles everything.

We are so hung up on being politically correct, not hurting anybody’s feelings, and involving every minority and special-interest group in the country that nothing gets done and the world just laughs at us and doesn’t take us seriously.

Sometimes it’s really embarrassing to be a Canadian, and this government sure contributes to that.

Mike Bartholemew
Saanich

Majority are walking on the right side

Re: “Walking on the left would make trails safer,” letter, April 7.

The writer suggests pedestrians could step aside to allow approaching cyclists room to pass, if there was room to do so, otherwise cyclists could slow or stop until safe to pass.

Would the writer expect a huge, transport truck to stop for them if there were no available road-shoulder to access?

Stepping to the left to let a cyclist pass suggests that the writer was not as close as reasonably possible to the side of the trail, and then unpredictably, moved to the unexpected trail-side, possibly across the intended passing route of the cyclist.

Considering the weight and momentum difference of a fully loaded touring bike and rider, on a gentle downslope, “rude comments” would be much preferred to the alternative.

It’s interesting to note that far in excess of 98 per cent of pedestrians walk on the advised (and requested) right side of multi-use trails.

Jim Grayson
Saanich

SEND US YOUR LETTERS

• Email: letters@timescolonist.com

• Mail: Letters to the editor, Times Colonist, 201-655 Tyee Rd., Victoria, B.C. V9A 6X5

• Submissions should be no more than 250 words; subject to editing for length and clarity. Provide your contact information; it will not be published. Avoid sending your letter as an email attachment.

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