OTTAWA, Oct. 1, 2015 /CNW/ - The Canadian Association of Radiologists (CAR) is alarmed by the recent unilateral and arbitrary physician fee cuts in Ontario. We believe these cuts will result in limited access to appropriate, high-quality diagnostic imaging care for Ontarians. We ask the Ontario Government to rescind these changes and work together with Ontario radiologists to find solutions that will not jeopardize quality patient care or undermine patients' trust in our health care system.
Among the fee changes affecting medical imaging is a 20 % reduction in all diagnostic ultrasound and nuclear medicine services that Ontario's patients rely upon for the diagnosis and follow-up of many diseases, including leading causes of mortality such as cancer and cardiac disease. Undermining the delivery of ultrasound services in community-based imaging clinics will delay patients' access to a timely diagnosis. Further, other life threatening conditions such as trauma and ectopic pregnancies are daily occurrences in many hospital emergency departments across the province where timely care is essential.
The potential impact of the cuts, among others, is that access to appropriate and timely medical imaging will be compromised; patients will have limited access to these specific imaging services, which will likely result in increased referrals for more costly MRI imaging, which in turn will increase wait times in hospitals for those services. MRI is not only more costly, but has significantly longer wait times in much of the province.
Dr. Willie Miller, President of the CAR, says, "We are concerned that these ill-informed, arbitrary fee cuts will negatively impact Ontarians' access to high-quality, appropriate and timely care. Patient care would be better served by the Ministry of Health working together with Ontario radiologists as recommended by Dr. Mark Prieditis, President of the Ontario Association of Radiologists, in his letter this past week to Health Minister Hoskins. Radiologists understand the implications of these changes on the front lines and are best suited to work collaboratively to find workable solutions that protect the healthcare of Ontarians."
The lack of consultation with Ontario radiologists denies the provincial health care system access to imaging expertise and understanding not available in the Ministry of Health. The Ontario Government's decision to reduce musculoskeletal and scrotal ultrasound by 63% and 74% respectively would have had serious patient care repercussions for approximately 800,000 patients annually. The CAR is encouraged that government followed the advice of the Ontario Association of Radiologists to reverse this decision, but is disappointed that there was no public acknowledgement from the Ministry of this important advice. The public has a right to expect that changes to the Ontario health care system should be made collaboratively by the Ministry with the physicians who deliver care daily. Clearly this is not what is happening.
The CAR urges the Government of Ontario to rescind all recently announced diagnostic imaging cuts and undertake a process which seeks to improve quality and sustainability in imaging through consultation with the Ontario Association of Radiologists. "Radiologists are willing and interested in working together with governments to improve the health care system," concludes Dr. Miller.
About the CAR
The CAR is the national voice of radiology committed to promoting the highest standards in patient-centered imaging, lifelong learning and research. Our physician members are respected as the experts in using diagnostic and therapeutic interventional imaging technology to promote safe, efficient and quality health care for Canadians. Radiologists are integral members of the healthcare team.
SOURCE Canadian Association of Radiologists
For further information: To coordinate an interview with a spokesperson from the CAR, contact: Canadian Association of Radiologists, Communications Department, 613 860-3111, ext. 203, [email protected]