Human and other resource shortages handcuff health system doctors say

    OTTAWA, Aug. 22 /CNW Telbec/ - The Canadian Medical Association (CMA)
released the results today of its online consultation with over
4,000 physicians from across the country. Concerns over shortages in both
health human resources and infrastructure dominated the 16 wide-ranging
recommendations for enhancing specialty care in Canada.
    "Health care is human resources intensive endeavour and right now the
system is only just scraping by as too few health professionals are pressed to
do too much," said CMA President Dr. Colin McMillan. "It's crucial for us to
know the views of our members who are working on the frontline of health care
delivery. Their knowledge and their vision are essential in shaping the
policies and the services of the Canadian health care system".
    Key recommendations included:

    - Increase resources and capacity: Concerns over the aging and capacity
      of Canada's specialty care infrastructure were predominant in
      discussions. Respondents called for a gap analysis of Canada's physical
      infrastructure (e.g. operating rooms, equipment, etc.) to inform
      governments on where capital resources should be targeted within the
      specialty care infrastructure.

    - Boost number of physicians: Participants urged the CMA to increase
      efforts to work with government to increase the number of physicians in
      Canada to meet the growing health care needs of our population. This is
      a critical concern in smaller and rural areas. Also noted was the "gap
      in generalism", meaning there is a growing shortage of general
      specialists and family physicians.

    - Improving care delivery models: A vast majority (93%) of respondents
      supported the notion of collaborative care. Survey participants also
      supported a more systemic approach to health care, with a better
      linkage between health care and social issues. Similarly, they
      advocated for more investments in community-based services such as
      alternative care facilities, mental health services, home care to free
      up acute care beds in hospitals.

    "Ideally our health care system should work as a continuum, with services
and health care providers working together in support of patients," said
Dr. McMillan. "Participants in this consultation are telling us clearly that
we have gaps to fill in to make that continuum seamless."
    Dr. McMillan noted that several recommendations from the consultation
have already been advanced. On Aug. 20, delegates attending the 140th CMA
Annual Meeting in Vancouver debated and passed resolutions concerning the
continuum of care. In March, the Wait Time Alliance, consisting of CMA and a
variety of specialty societies, announced expansion into new areas (emergency
care, psychiatry and gastroenterology and facial reconstruction), a key
recommendation from the specialty care consultation.
    The CMA online consultation on specialty care took place between Sept. 27
and Nov. 23, 2006. Canadian physicians, medical residents and medical students
were invited to complete an online workbook and to share stories and ideas
concerning the delivery of specialty care services to Canadians.
    The initiative was overseen by an 11-member Specialty Care Review Working
Group led by Dr. Charmaine Roye, a Brantford obstetrician/gynecologist.
    The working group brought together a cross-section of the medical
profession, including medical specialty societies, provincial medical
associations and other national medical organizations. Overall, 45 medical
organizations were involved in the review of the recommendations.
    "We really need to pay attention to how we respond to rising demands on
specialty care by finding ways to change the capacity constraints in many of
our hospitals," said Dr. Roye. "For example, at a time when the population is
aging rapidly, our emergency departments are backed-up because we can't get
our patients out of the hospital and into a more appropriate level of care,
such as nursing homes or home care," says Dr. Roye.

    The full report and recommendations are available online at

For further information:

For further information: Lucie Boileau, 1 800 663-7336 x1266, (613)
731-8610 x1266

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