Doug Ford unveils reforms to assist clear Ontario’s surgical procedure backlog

Ontario is shifting hundreds extra surgical procedures and diagnostic procedures out of hospitals and into specialised neighborhood clinics to ease the pandemic backlog, beginning with cataracts and constructing towards hip and knee replacements subsequent yr.

The change first signalled final week will add to the 26,000 procedures — together with MRIs, CT scans and colonoscopies — now being accomplished yearly in 900 impartial well being services throughout the province, releasing time and house for extra complicated care in hospitals, Premier Doug Ford mentioned Monday.

“Ontarians are nonetheless ready too lengthy for his or her therapy, for surgical procedure, and extra must be accomplished,” he informed a information convention with Well being Minister Sylvia Jones. “The established order will not be working.”

The plan has raised considerations that medical doctors, nurses and different medical personnel will depart hospitals which are already scuffling with workers shortages to work in impartial well being services, the place day-surgery sufferers are much less difficult and procedures are usually accomplished on weekdays with out onerous in a single day and weekend shifts.

“These staff will come from the identical pool,” mentioned incoming New Democrat Chief Marit Stiles.

“Whoever is left behind in our hospitals would be the people which are going to be coping with probably the most weak and more and more complicated sufferers and populations.”

Ford mentioned the plan will stay in place after the pandemic backlog of 206,000 surgical procedures and diagnostic procedures has been cleared.

“This will probably be everlasting,” he mentioned.

Step one will add 14,000 further cataract surgical procedures a yr to begin by partnerships with clinics in Windsor, Kitchener-Waterloo and Ottawa.

Beginning later this yr, the plan offers for an extra 49,000 hours of MRI and CT scans, one other 4,800 cataract replacements, 900 different ophthalmic surgical procedures, 1,000 “minimally invasive” gynecological surgical procedures, 2,845 plastic surgical procedures similar to for hand tender tissue repairs, and extra colonoscopies and endoscopies.

Laws to be launched in February would permit current neighborhood diagnostic centres to do extra MRI and CT scans to enhance early detection and analysis of well being issues. The invoice would additionally strengthen authorities oversight of neighborhood surgical clinics.

Hearken to Rob Ferguson clarify the well being care plan

In 2024, extra hip and knee replacements will probably be added at impartial well being services, that are a mixture of not-for-profit and for-profit fashions which are regulated by the province.

The federal government mentioned impartial clinics must submit plans to point out they don’t seem to be taking workers away from hospitals.

However Liberal MPP Dr. Adil Shamji (Don Valley East), an emergency room doctor, questioned how these plans could be evaluated and precisely verified by the Well being Ministry.

He known as the requirement “completely meaningless.”

The regulatory physique for medical doctors within the province mentioned it helps extra “diagnostic procedures and fewer complicated surgical procedures in neighborhood settings,” however worries about hospital staffing ranges hit exhausting by burnout and attrition after three gruelling years of the pandemic.

Dr. Nancy Whitmore, registrar of the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, additionally flagged a priority that hip and knee replacements — which have extra potential for problems — ought to solely be accomplished in impartial clinics with hospital hyperlinks.

“Advanced procedures similar to hip and knee joint alternative surgical procedures ought to stay linked to the hospital system to make sure continuity of care and affected person security,” she mentioned in a press release.

The plan gained cautious endorsements from hospitals and medical teams, with Ontario Hospital Affiliation president Anthony Dale saying “it’s important that the expanded use of neighborhood surgical centres into new scientific exercise happen,” however noting there should be “threat administration measures.”

“We sit up for working with the federal government to develop a technique to ensure these new centres don’t take sources away from hospitals or exacerbate current well being human useful resource challenges,” Ontario Medical Affiliation president Dr. Rose Zacharias mentioned in a press release.

A correct framework should be developed “to take care of the integrity of our public system concerning staffing and high quality assurance,” mentioned Dr. Kevin Smith, chief govt officer of College Well being Community, which incorporates Toronto Basic Hospital.

Ford mentioned British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec are forward of Ontario in offering sure surgical procedures and diagnostic procedures exterior of hospitals, with Alberta performing 20 per cent in impartial clinics. About three per cent of Ontario’s surgical procedures are actually accomplished exterior of hospitals.

Jones mentioned Ontario will welcome functions from medical teams to kind impartial clinics for procedures the place demand exists — which Stiles known as a “slippery slope” to a broader privatization of well being care.

“The federal government must get to work fixing our crumbling public health-care system as an alternative of working so exhausting to persuade Ontarians that privatization is the one resolution,” added Inexperienced Chief Mike Schreiner.

Simply over a yr in the past, provincial auditor normal Bonnie Lysyk issued a report saying hospital working rooms had been “underused” as just lately as 2020, and roughly 34 per cent of hospitals surveyed didn’t meet the goal of utilizing working rooms to 90 per cent of capability.

Ford mentioned “ideological” objections to impartial well being clinics are old style pondering, and famous a lot well being care is already supplied by non-public operators, similar to household medical doctors working in their very own workplaces, X-ray clinics and blood take a look at labs with companies lined by OHIP.

“Lots of people on the market, they wish to have the countless debates about who ought to present care,” he mentioned. “All of your authorities cares about is that you simply get the care you want shortly.”

He additionally repeated a pledge from final week that sufferers will proceed to pay “with their OHIP card, not their bank card.”

However critics have warned sufferers may face elevated pressures to pay out of their very own pockets for added services not lined by the provincial medical health insurance plan, similar to higher-quality lenses than OHIP covers for cataract operations.

That smacks of a “two-tier” health-care system that runs counter to the idea of medicare, mentioned Stiles.

Shamji — whose Liberal get together’s June 2 election platform known as for extra non-profit impartial surgical and diagnostic clinics — mentioned many sufferers will discover it robust to resolve if it’s value paying for merchandise, assessments and different companies not lined by OHIP when going through “upselling” pitches.

“Sufferers don’t essentially perceive the distinction,” he informed a information convention. “It’s troublesome to say no.”

A 2021 report by the auditor normal discovered the Well being Ministry has “no oversight mechanism to stop sufferers from being misinformed about being charged inappropriately for publicly funded surgical procedures.”

Jones mentioned any sufferers who really feel they weren’t correctly knowledgeable can file a grievance.

Doug Ford, the premier of Ontario, holds a information convention in Toronto. He’s joined by Sylvia Jones, the deputy premier and minister of well being.


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