There was a CBC Early Edition interview this week with Colin Hansen and Moe Sihota regarding private clinics in B.C. This was not a discussion on primary medical care, which I find to be generally exemplary in the province, but more to the point about surgical clinics, which Sihota disparages.
Not that I wish to be unkind, but I challenge Sihota and others (or their family members) who oppose the dreaded two-tier system for surgeries, to experience first hand the pain and suffering endured by those B.C. residents waiting to get an MRI, hip replacement or spinal surgery.
How long would they persevere until they opt to pay and get the diagnosis and surgery done promptly, here or south of the border? The numerous users of the now essential and excellent private surgical clinics in B.C., notably in Vancouver, give evidence that, regardless of pontification by politicians, the public system is not sufficiently responsive to urgent surgical needs. Particularly for certain diagnostics (e.g CT, MRI) and surgeries for orthopedics (e.g. knee and hip) and neurosurgeries (e.g. herniated disks) there is a painful deficiency. In cases where surgery is the only treatment for these truly debilitating and extremely painful conditions, why should B.C. residents be expected to endure months long waits for consults and surgery? Prompt diagnosis and surgery are the only relief for these conditions and the private clinics do it, right now.
The suggestion that medical professionals service both private and public clinics is a good one, currently in practice I expect. This approach should be expanded, as it would attract other professionals to our province and help to continue growth of the remarkable medical talent pool. Remember, these surgeries are to relieve intense pain, offer mobility again for those immobilized, and to address spinal and neurological limits to physical movement, surely the basic elements for quality of life.
Requiring persons to endure intense pain and disability for months on end, and for which there are no effective pain relief drugs, is not a solution. Those using private clinics vote with their feet and money. Let’s hope the political fraternity will urgently address a policy solution, and amend the laws to accommodate what our determined medical practitioners have initiated in their private surgery clinics. And let’s acknowledge that the private clinics follow the Hippocratic oath — treat and do no harm, and leave the hypocrites to heal themselves.
Victor JonesQualicum Beach