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Thousands of surgeries may be cut in Metro Vancouver due to government underfunding

Discussion in 'Political Zone' started by trickblue, Aug 19, 2009.

  1. trickblue

    trickblue Old Testament... Zone Supporter

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    Thousands of surgeries may be cut in Metro Vancouver due to government underfunding, leaked paper
    By Darah Hansen, Vancouver Sun

    VANCOUVER —
    Vancouver patients needing neurosurgery, treatment for vascular diseases and other medically necessary procedures can expect to wait longer for care, NDP health critic Adrian Dix said Monday.

    Dix said a Vancouver Coastal Health Authority document shows it is considering chopping more than 6,000 surgeries in an effort to make up for a dramatic budgetary shortfall that could reach $200 million.

    “This hasn’t been announced by the health authority … but these cuts are coming,” Dix said, citing figures gleaned from a leaked executive summary of “proposed VCH surgical reductions.”

    The health authority confirmed the document is genuine, but said it represents ideas only.

    “It is a planning document. It has not been approved or implemented,” said spokeswoman Anna Marie D’Angelo.

    Dr. Brian Brodie, president of the BC Medical Association, called the proposed surgical cuts “a nightmare.”

    “Why would you begin your cost-cutting measures on medically necessary surgery? I just can’t think of a worse place,” Brodie said.

    According to the leaked document, Vancouver Coastal — which oversees the budget for Vancouver General and St. Paul’s hospitals, among other health-care facilities — is looking to close nearly a quarter of its operating rooms starting in September and to cut 6,250 surgeries, including 24 per cent of cases scheduled from September to March and 10 per cent of all medically necessary elective procedures this fiscal year.

    The plan proposes cutbacks to neurosurgery, ophthalmology, vascular surgery, and 11 other specialized areas.

    As many of 112 full-time jobs — including 13 anesthesiologist positions — would be affected by the reductions, the document says.

    “Clearly this will impact the capacity of the health-care system to provide care, not just now but in the future,” Dix said.

    Further reductions in surgeries are scheduled during the Olympics, when the health authority plans to close approximately a third of its operating rooms.

    Two weeks ago, Dix released a Fraser Health Authority draft communications plan listing proposed clinical care cuts, including a 10-per-cent cut in elective surgeries and longer waits for MRI scans.

    The move comes after the province acknowledged all health authorities together will be forced to cut staff, limit some services and increase fees to find $360 million in savings during the current fiscal year.

    In all, Fraser Health is looking at a $160-million funding shortfall.

    D’Angelo said Vancouver Coastal’s deficit is closer to $90 million — almost a third of which ($23 million) has already been absorbed through reductions in non-clinical administration efficiencies.

    Vancouver Coastal performed 67,000 surgeries last year, an increase of 6,500 surgeries over 2007.

    “What has now happened is that now our wait times are about 25 per cent lower than the provincial average,” D’Angelo said. “We have put a dent in that wait list.”

    Brodie acknowledged surgical waiting times have dropped significantly in recent years, particularly for patients needing hip and joint replacements.

    He said the proposed cuts threaten those advancements.

    “It sounds like we are going backwards here,” he said.

    Total health spending in British Columbia was $15.7 billion this year, up about four per cent over last year’s total of 15.1 billion, according to figures provided by the ministry of health.

    Health Minister Kevin Falcon was unavailable for comment Monday on the proposed health-care cuts. A ministry spokesman said Falcon is away on his honeymoon until the end of August.

    Elsewhere in British Columbia, the province will look to replace the head of the Interior Health Authority, Murray Ramsden, after he announced he will step down at the end of the year.

    Ramsden has said his decision to retire is not related to financial problems faced by the authority.

    dahansen@vancouversun.com
  2. bbgun

    bbgun Benched

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  3. ABQCOWBOY

    ABQCOWBOY Moderator Staff Member

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    I think that this is the central issue to Nationalized Healthcare. Regardless of the political idioligy of the thing, the simple facts seem to indicate that it is not sustainable. Vertually every Country that has tried it has either given it up or has sustained huge burdens on their respecitve econemies that are putting those economies in financial danger.

    I just don't believe that it is a plan that can be sustained without controlling population.
  4. zrinkill

    zrinkill Diamond surrounded by trash

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    In other words ...... abortions for the young ..... and euthanasia for the old.

    Yay socialized health care!
  5. ScipioCowboy

    ScipioCowboy More than meets the eye. Zone Supporter

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    Lies!

    All lies!

    :D
  6. Rackat

    Rackat Active Member

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    Socialized healthcare:

    [IMG]
  7. ABQCOWBOY

    ABQCOWBOY Moderator Staff Member

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    :lmao2:

    :bow:
  8. CanadianCowboysFan

    CanadianCowboysFan Lightning Rod

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    Just so you know, Dix is the critic for the "socialist" opposition so he is not making the comment to show the system cannot work, he is doing it to try and ensure more money is available so as not to cut such surgeries (if in fact that is the plan).

    He is a member of the NDP which always champions protecting health and education and that the state run system for health care is sacrosanct.

    This story certainly was not big up here (I live in Metro Vancouver although in a region under another health authority). You heard nary a comment about it.
  9. burmafrd

    burmafrd Well-Known Member

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    Really very simple S Canadian: is it true or false?
  10. Jarv

    Jarv Loud pipes saves lives. Zone Supporter

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    So, your not on the "Walmart" plan in Canada ? Just your poor neighbors ?
  11. masomenos

    masomenos Less is more

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    Oh, I don't know that I'd agree that nationalized healthcare is necessarily unsustainable. Germany has had universal healthcare in place since the 1880's and their spending is only at 10.8% of GDP. That figure really only ballooned in the past 20 years, as the % of GDP expenditure rose 60% from 1991 to 2005. The increase in cost was due to the increased price of pharmaceuticals, not due to any fault of the system. Now, Germany will also face an increase in costs around 2030 when something like 60% of their population will be 65 or older. However, that's a cyclical thing and the cost will drop back down sometime around 2050.

    On top of that, German doctors make a third of what U.S. doctors make, on average, and yet Germany has a significantly higher ratio of doctors to population. Even with the lower salaries, Germany has a rate of 3.4 physicians per 1000 and the U.S. has 2.3 per 1000.

    Finland is another example. They have one of the most socialized healthcare systems in Europe and they have a satisfaction rate of 88%. This high satisfaction doesn't even come at a budget busting price, as they only spend 8.2% of GDP on their system.
  12. ABQCOWBOY

    ABQCOWBOY Moderator Staff Member

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    Interesting. So then, would you say that the large majority of countries fit my outline?
  13. masomenos

    masomenos Less is more

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    I'd probably say that, yeah. I don't know the situation in every country, but it does seem like there are funding/budget problems more often than not. I'm not sure why some countries are able to create seemingly sustainable healthcare systems and others aren't.
  14. Rackat

    Rackat Active Member

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    With our population getting to the tipping point of more elderly due to the Baby Boomer's reaching retirement age and beyond, we are in essence strapping ourselves to a system that will not be viable (as far as amount of people paying the cost) until after the Baby Boomer generation is deceased and a smaller population will be retiring. Basically, we will be paying out the wazzoo for the next 30+ years. And I know I am selfish, but I don't want to pay for anyone elses parent's healthcare. I will have my hands full with paying for just my parents and what little medicare and Social Security will cover.

    My grandmother took care of my great grandmother when she got old. My Dad is taking care of my grandmother. I will be taking care of my Dad when it is my turn. I don't need big government, I need less taxes so I have more money to take care of my family.
  15. ScipioCowboy

    ScipioCowboy More than meets the eye. Zone Supporter

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    Funding is often a problem, and it's likely to be an even bigger problem in the US. Consider this:

    Many European countries spend pennies on defense. The US, conversely, has a prodigious (what some might even deem excessive) defense budget.

    To this point, many would reply that the US needs to scale back on defense spending. There's certainly a reasonable argument to be made for this, but it often overlooks the reality that we pay for more than merely our own defense.
  16. CanadianCowboysFan

    CanadianCowboysFan Lightning Rod

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    :rolleyes:

    Damn my Wal Mart comments must really have hit home with a lot of you, they are constantly brought up.

    We have bigger fish to fry in BC like the government deciding to bring in a Harmonized Sales Tax of 12% (like a value added tax). We pay a federal tax of 5% GST and now a provincial tax of 7%. The total sales tax amount will be the same but now it will be on more things.

    Glad I am doing my renos this year, saved a ton as much of them are provincial sales tax exempt but won't be after next July 1.

    Guess we have to pay for the Olympics somehow.

    BTW, I will be seeing a USA-Switzerland hockey game in the Olympics. Go Suisse :cool:
  17. zrinkill

    zrinkill Diamond surrounded by trash

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    Exactly ..... Our Military protects this entire continent and most of the free world.
  18. ABQCOWBOY

    ABQCOWBOY Moderator Staff Member

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    Well, I don't know for certain but I do know that both Germany and Finland, up until just very recently, have both been closed nations to immigration. Up until about 2002, I believe that Germany only accepted Work Immigrants. In fact, in 2002 a more progressive Immigration policy was passed in Germany but was immediatly repelled as unconstitutional. In fact, the only reason Germany is open to immigration at all is because their population is not growing at a rate that can support economic growth. So far as I know, Finland still only accepts Work Immigration as well. They bring in people as needed but they too have closed boarders when it comes to acceptance of immigrants, for the most part.

    I think that's pretty key. You simply have no way to budget for something as costly as Healthcare in years out if you have no way of knowing how many bodies need coverage.
  19. masomenos

    masomenos Less is more

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    Yeah, this is pretty much the worst time that we could be pushing through a universal healthcare system. The aging baby boomers are definitely going to strain the system right from the start. Can we work with that? I think so. I certainly don't think the the situation with the baby boomers is a deal breaker, but it will force us to use some extra foresight when creating the system.

    Now, I can appreciate the way that your family takes care of previous generations because mine does the same thing. I also think that your concern about being taxed too much, to the point that it limits the care you can provide, is a legitimate one. What if the new system was able to lower costs though, to a point where you were paying less even when taking into account possible tax increases. That would be a good thing, wouldn't it? I'm not saying that's absolutely what will happen, but it is the goal.
  20. ABQCOWBOY

    ABQCOWBOY Moderator Staff Member

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    The problem with this Mas is that I've seen no real numbers presented that suggest this will ever be a possability. So long as we have an open door policy on immigration, this can never be a reality.

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