Letter to the editor : No to the empty-chair strategy!

MONTREAL, Feb. 6, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - The decision by Réjean Hébert, Quebec's Minister of Health and Social Services, to withdraw from the provincial-territorial working group on health innovation leaves the medical profession perplexed.

This working group brings together representatives of health professionals and the provincial and territorial governments. It is an excellent example of cooperation.  However, Minister Hébert prefers to shut the door.

This working group has shown that the interactions among provinces can give rise to best practices for patients and also contribute to substantial savings for the health care system, while respecting entirely the provincial jurisdictions. For example, the group reached an agreement with generic drug companies for reducing costs - an estimated savings of $100 million per year.

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) and the Quebec Medical Association (QMA), which represent nearly 80,000 members of the medical profession, are working closely with various stakeholders on projects involving the responsible, effective use of our health care system's funds and resources in order to improve the quality of services for patients.

At a time when all western governments are looking for ways to curb the increasing costs in their health care system, it is most surprising that Quebec should be standing alone by refusing to assess and consider the best practices from elsewhere.

The question is: how can the empty-chair strategy be beneficial for Quebeckers?

The QMA, which has 10,000 members in Quebec, has made numerous requests for a meeting with the Minister to discuss potential solutions for improving health care to the population. Those requests have remained unanswered. First the empty chair, now radio silence! How is this approach beneficial for Quebec patients?

Rather than making sweeping cuts in operating rooms and in research, Minister Hébert would be better advised to take a patient-focused approach and to work with the medical profession to find lasting solutions to the problems in our health care system.

The Minister may opt to withdraw from the working group on health innovation, but health professional representatives will still continue to be involved; it is in their patients' interest.

Dr Anna Reid
Canadien Medical Association
  Dr Ruth Vander Stelt
Quebec Medical Association


For further information:

Mélissa Bourgoin
Coordonnatrice aux affaires professionnelles
Association médicale du Québec
Téléphone : 514-866-0660
Courriel : melissa.bourgoin@amq.ca

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