MONTREAL, Jan. 31, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - Patients wish to play a greater part and be fully involved in decisions which concern them in the purview of healthcare and social services, especially with regards to questions of access. In creating the Patient Alliance for Health, "our aim was to increase our visibility so as to lend our stance more influence, both in terms of public opinion and leverage with the leaders and decision-makers of our health system," emphasized Jérome Di Giovanni and Michel Roy, president and secretary of the Alliance.
A LÉGER survey, carried out at the Alliance's request with a sample of 1,501 patients in September of 2013, reveals that when it comes to health- and healthcare-related political decisions, two thirds of the surveyed patients felt their opinion was not really taken into account.
These last few years, several patient associations have expressed worry regarding the decision-making process within the health and social services system, from which they feel more or less excluded. More recently, various associations manifested their preoccupation concerning the delays in case management for people in need of services: surgical procedures, home support, urgencies, medical advice, free services, community support, etc., as well as for access to medication, and the autonomy of patients and health professionals in that regard.
The Alliance will keep a close eye on the main problems related to care accessibility, to health services and to social services affecting patients and natural caregivers. It will get involved, when necessary, so as to assert the patients' position and defend their rights, frequently referring to the Act respecting health services and social services.
"We think that, by rendering the patient factor unavoidable and reinstating the balance of power between the main components of the health and social services system, the Alliance will offer a value added," M. Di Giovanni and Roy explained. Within a few months, some twenty patient associations and local organizations have joined the Alliance.
Patients' impressions in Quebec
The results brought up by last Fall's LÉGER survey illustrate how, despite the high level of satisfaction regarding the delivered health services, a substantial proportion of patients in Quebec do not feel they can freely choose their healthcare provider or professional, nor access their files, have a say in the decisions or be informed about the available resources and services.
Furthermore, half of the patients state they have forgone treatment, namely because of the time it takes to secure an appointment, a situation even more common for those without a family physician. "It is unacceptable, especially since such situations can present dire consequences for our health," commented Michel Roy, patient, and spokesman for the Alliance.
Nearly one out of four patients claims obtaining a prescription proved difficult because the medication didn't appear on the list of drugs covered by the RAMQ. Moreover, 83% of surveyed patients asserted only a fraction of their prescription costs was refunded. In fact, more than one patient out of five had to abstain from taking medicine because of its cost. Further, patients are concerned about the generic- and therapeutic substitution of medication, the latter getting a cold shoulder from a sizeable majority.
Lastly, the survey confirms that resorting to private services is on the increase, often due to a lack of access to the public network. However, the price still proves prohibitive for many. For Alliance representatives, "it is obvious that discussions are in order, and that patients ought to have first row seats, so as to be able to debate with the other actors of the health system."
About the Patient Alliance for Health:
The Alliance allows patient associations and the groups they represent, along with their natural caregivers, to increase their leverage so they may act as a counterweight to other groups' efforts when it comes to such issues as access restrictions to healthcare services and lack of transparency. It also affords them a say in the organization of decision-making processes in Quebec's health and social services system.
The members of the Patient Alliance for Health are:
Alliance of Cultural Communities for Equality in Health and Social Services - Centre Associatif Polyvalent d'Aide Hépatite C - The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation - Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of Canada - Mental Illness Foundation - Lymphoma Canada - Save Your Skin Foundation - Le Mûrier - Myeloma Canada - Regroupement québécois des maladies orphelines - The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada - The Canadian Hemophilia Society - The Arthritis Society - The Gastrointestinal Society - Parkinson Society Quebec - Société québécoise de la schizophrénie
SOURCE: Patient Alliance for Health
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