Outgoing head calls for more public-private partnerships
By Aaron Derfel
The outgoing president of the Canadian Medical Association issued a rallying cry for more private-sector involvement in health services during his valedictory address yesterday. Brian Day also called out the two main federal parties for their lack of attention to health care issues, and suggested that public-private partnerships be set up to fund the education of medical students.
Dr. Day told the delegates at the CMA's annual meeting in Montreal that despite efforts by medical schools to expand, Canada had dropped in rankings by the OECD and was now 26th out of 28 countries in doctors per population.
Adding to the pressure, Dr. Day said, was the fact that 4,000 doctors were about to retire. "If our governments are unable to fund the education of the number of doctors we need, we must consider alternatives. Public-private partnerships are used in such circumstances to build infrastructure, including roads, bridges and hospitals. Let's explore similar initiatives to develop new medical schools."
He said it was "shocking that 1,500 young, highly educated Canadians are currently attending medical schools outside of Canada."
Acknowledging his philosophical support for the private sector, Dr. Day, an orthopedic surgeon who runs a private surgical clinic in Vancouver, said competition had a vital role to play.
Dr. Day blasted parties at the federal level for failing to address the country's health care problems. And he bemoaned the fact that more than one million Canadians were on waiting lists for health care and that five million people did not have access to a family doctor. Yet neither the governing Conservatives nor the Liberal opposition seemed to care, he charged.
Dr. Day said the CMA would make health care an issue during an expected fall election campaign, although it would not lobby against or support any one party. He called for patients to be the focus of the health care system, for more spaces in Canadian universities to train doctors and for action to address wait times for health care.