Monday, April 04, 2005

These indecisive grenadiers

The wait time crisis, redux: (Hey, wasn't fixing this some kind of Liberal election promise?) TORONTO (CP) - Federal Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh is welcoming recommendations from a doctors group on how long Canadians should have to wait for diagnosis and treatment, but he says provinces shouldn't delay efforts to shrink lineups before these benchmarks are approved. The doctors group, called the Wait Time Alliance, released an interim report Sunday that outlined proposed maximum wait times aimed at speeding up patient access to cancer treatment, cardiac care, joint replacement, cataract surgery and diagnostic imaging. [...] The alliance report also called for the benchmarks to be national in scope, so that cancer patients wait a maximum of 10 days for radiation treatment, for instance, whether they live in British Columbia or Nova Scotia. Dosanjh said he supports the notion of pan-Canadian benchmarks, saying "we don't want to have a checkerboard Canada in terms of health-care delivery." Here's an idea. Establish basic standards. Then step back, and let the free market deliver them. The best way to ensure uneven delivery of labour and technology-intensive medical procedures is to leave it up to the vagaries of federal and provincial bureaucracies, rather than a competitive system dedicated to being more appealing in some way (be it price, comfort, convenience, what have you) than the next guy. Let a thousand private MRI clinics bloom, and wait times will decrease so fast your head will spin. That, however, would mean giving up on the delusional utopian vision of socialized medicine, however...and we can't have that, can we?

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