Corbella: Canada’s healthcare system is overrun with administrators and lacking doctors

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Finally, Canadians from coast to coast are beginning to ask the right questions about our provincially run health care systems.

How is it, ask Quebecers that in a province of 8.6 million people, 185 people in intensive care and 1,592 people in hospital are leading to such a crisis that the provincial government has imposed a curfew on its citizens from December 31?

The same question arises in Ontario, which is again under lockdown with businesses closed to protect its hospital system because 577 adults are in intensive care in a province of nearly 15 million people with a health budget of 69, $8 billion in 2021-22, not including an additional $5.1 billion in dedicated COVID-19 funding.

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The Alberta government increased its health care budget last year by 4% to $23 billion — not including additional COVID-19-related spending, making it the fastest growing health care system. expensive in Canada per capita — and therefore one of the most expensive in the world.

There are currently 108 patients in intensive care in Alberta and 1,131 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in a province of 4.4 million people. COVID complicates care as more masks, dressings and other protocols are needed to prevent the spread and many staff are sick or isolated due to the highly infectious variant of Omicron. But still, how fragile is health care in Canada?

According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Canada ranks fourth in the number of intensive care beds per capita.

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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said this Thursday during the COVID-19 update:

“Even though here in Alberta, we have the most expensive health care system in the country, even though we added $900 million to the base health care budget last year. . . and we will add more to the health budget this year. Even though we have invested $3 billion in the event of COVID, even though we have more nurses and doctors working in Alberta than at any time in our history, we are spending more on health care health that at any point in our history we are still struggling to cope with the capacity constraints posed by COVID and that is simply not acceptable,” he said.

He then talked about the need for more money and the need for the federal government to increase its funding to the provinces for health care to 35%, which would increase Alberta’s share by 3 .25 billion dollars. He also spoke of the need for capacity building.

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“It could make a huge difference in our ability to avoid the kind of capacity issues we faced here,” he said.

Dr. Verna Yiu, President and CEO of Alberta Health Services, said: “ as recently as last week, we were completing approximately 99% of normal surgical volumes. This week, surgical volumes will be closer to 90%.

Remember that there are 108 people in intensive care in Alberta. The highest number Alberta has ever had in intensive care was 313 at the height of the fourth wave, when the Delta variant made light of mostly unvaccinated Albertans.

Clearly, Alberta is doing better than Quebec and Ontario, but how can this few people in intensive care and acute care hospital beds create such a crisis across the country? ?

There’s a new book that helps answer that question.

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Patients at Risk: Exposing Canada’s Health Care Crisis, by Susan D. Martinuk , largely explains the ills of our health care system and suggests remedies to remedy them.

The 247-page book, available on Amazon, examines many aspects of our healthcare system, including heartbreaking pre-COVID patient stories that will have you reaching for your Kleenex and your antacid at the same time.

Here’s just one area among many eye-opening statistics Martinuk, a researcher and former freelance columnist for the Calgary Herald, lays out.

Patients at Risk: Exposing Canada's Health Care Crisis, by Susan D. Martinuk
Patients at Risk: Exposing Canada’s Health Care Crisis, by Susan D. Martinuk Photo by Gerard Lucyshyn /.jpg

“Various studies have stated that Germany has the highest (or nearly) ranked healthcare system and plenty of data exists to prove that it deserves this ranking. Of course, this raised the question: what is the best health care system (Germany) has more than one of the worst systems (Canada)?” asks Martinuk, in the book published by the Frontier Center for Public Policy.

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There is a striking difference between the two countries: Canada has 10 times more health care administrators than Germany, even though Germany has twice the population of Canada.

Here’s a look at their respective ratios of health bureaucrats to population: Canada has one health administrator for every 1,415 people. Germany: one healthcare administrator per 15,545.

“Every system needs some kind of administration, but this statistic strongly suggests that we can be overburdened by bureaucracy and so-called ‘paper pushers’. A realistic prescription for improving the public health system might be d ‘hire fewer administrators and a lot more doctors, specialists and health care workers,’ suggests Martinuk.

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She goes on to state that according to a 2019 comparison of universal health care in OECD countries, Canada spends more on health care than Germany as a percentage of GDP (11.1 and 10.2%, respectively). ) and slightly less than Germany when calculated per capita. ($4,995.60 and $5,324.50, respectively).

” . . . The amount of money spent on public health care is essentially the same in every country. Yet international studies show that Germany has more doctors, more specialists and many more acute care and psychiatric beds. It far surpasses Canada in its inventory of diagnostic equipment (CT, MRI and PET) and only 1% of its population waits more than four weeks to see a specialist, compared to 17% in Canada.

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“The cost to patients of using this superior public system? Seven percent of Germans said cost was a barrier to care in the past year, compared to 16 percent of Canadians.

“In sum,” writes Martinuk, “Canada and Germany spend about the same amount of money on universal health care, yet the German public system serves about 75 million people and is one of the ranked in the world, while Canada’s public system serves half as many people (about 38 million) and is considered to have one of the worst public systems in the world. However, we have 10 times more admins,” she writes sarcastically.

“Based on the statistics above, it should be relatively easy for patients to find a health care administrator when needed, but family physicians and specialist physicians remain relatively scarce and, for many patients, observations are rare.This is a sure indication that Canada needs to reallocate its health care resources and invest in the education and training of physicians and specialists.

The problem with administrators is that they never look inside. Administrators never recommend that administration be cut off.

Our best and brightest health administrators – after almost two years of managing COVID – still haven’t figured out how to build system capacity and resilience? It’s amazing !

Martinuk is right. We shouldn’t hire one more health administrator in Canada unless he is hired to reduce the number of administrators so we can hire more doctors and nurses.

Licia Corbella is a columnist with Postmedia in Calgary. [email protected]

Twitter: @LiciaCorbella

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