Hospital funding needs restructuring, says new CMA chief
jeff hodson/metro vancouver
The Canadian health-care system needs to slash wait times and should do so by restructuring the way hospitals are funded, the newly inaugurated head of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) said yesterday.
Having waitlists, said new CMA president Dr. Brian Day, costs the public health-care system more money because it is cheaper to treat patients quickly.
“Study after study confirms that waitlists cost a lot — estimated at billions of dollars a year in Canada,” Day told the CMA annual meeting in Vancouver yesterday.
He said that other public health systems, like Great Britain’s, have had success in eliminating wait times by changing the way hospitals are funded.
In 1997, there were 284,000 patients waiting more than six months for hospital care in Britain, by 2006 there were none.
“Our current system of block funding does not reward productivity, customer service, excellence or efficiencies,” Day said. “Nor does it penalize failure to deliver on those key indicators.”
Day, who opened Canada’s first private surgical centre in 1995, wants to do away with block funding, where a hospital receives a budgeted amount of money regardless of how many patients it treats.
Instead, Day said, hospitals must have incentives to re-open operating rooms, increase beds, hire more staff and treat more patients.
He recommends “patient-focused funding” where government resources are attached to a patient, allowing them choice in their care provider.