New patient coalition formed to fight health bureaucrats

TORONTO, March 30 /CNW/ - For the first time in Canadian history patients met formally to voice their concerns about the way healthcare decisions are made.

Over 100 patients from across Canada met in Toronto to discuss the future of healthcare and to put forward solutions.

Todd Janes, from Edmonton, who has been living with diabetes for thirty years said, "If we're going to move ahead, we need an accountable, transparent system that places the patient on equal footing with their primary healthcare team. There must be a mechanism or structure in place for patients to gain voice or access that is not just reactive to emergency situations."

Janes summed up the frustration many at the meeting felt with the current healthcare policy making process.

Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews echoed the same feeling: "If patients designed a system that reflected their needs, we would have a much more highly integrated system." Matthews challenged patients to be more involved. "It's your system, you own the system, you pay for the system, the system belongs to you."

Evelyn Lukan, a person with arthritis from Halifax, feels that this conference is a step in that direction.

"We've laid out strategies that can be put in place to ensure that the patient will be part of the development of healthcare policy." Lukan commented. "It's been tremendous, to bring so many people together, to realize that everybody is seeking a system that delivers patient-centred care."

The meeting decided to form a new coalition to advocate for patients' rights and to fight health bureaucracy.

John Munroe, a First Nations diabetes advocate from Saskatchewan said, "In any democratic system, there's always so many systems, and so many people that words often get lost. The most important thing about this Summit is that we're all representing the patients' view, and every patient has a voice. If one patient speaks, it is not heard, but if many patients collaborate together, just imagine what we could do nationally."

The Canadian Patient Summit, the work of over 30 non-profit organizations, brings together more than 100 patients living with chronic medical conditions, caregivers, health professionals and policy makers to share their solutions for engaging patients and caregivers more effectively in the decisions on the future of our healthcare system.

SOURCE CANADIAN PATIENT SUMMIT

For further information: For further information: please visit www.canadianpatientsummit.ca or contact: Tiffanie Ing, Communications Coordinator, Canadian Patient Summit, (647) 296-7577, (416) 485-2292; Charles Hain, Communications, Canadian Patient Summit, (647) 291-9046, (416) 485-2292

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