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Waiting list alarms.

Waiting times for certain medical procedures are a concern to all Canadians. Currently, we put a lot of value on the publication of comparative waiting lists for five medical procedures, broken down by provinces. This is a useful statistical exercise that comes with potential problems.

In the hands of less than imaginative administrators this type of scorecard by itself could encourage the transfer of personnel and resources from other necessary areas, such as preventive services, where no lists are tallied. It also encourages advocates of private facilities and private health insurance providers.

The Canadian Health Care Coalition concludes that better management of the waiting lists and investment in human resources and capital infrastructure is required, "The waittimes issue must not be used to undermine public health care by legitimizing and widening the scope of privatization."

Dr. Michael Rachlis in his book, Prescription for Excellence: How Innovation is Saving Canada's Health, cites examples where wait-times have been overcome by determined, intelligent and useful measures that will manage the lists without robbing other parts of the system and without the necessity of resorting to major increases in spending.

According to Rachlis, waiting lists can be managed if we are willing to look at new ways of doing things. We should not allow alarm over waiting lists to drive us into spending more on the same thing with the same unsatisfactory result.
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Publication:Community Action
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Jan 23, 2006
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