Fall 2010

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Patient-centered care at heart of refocusing Canada’s health care system


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Dr. Anne Doig

In August, the CMA held its Annual General Meeting in Niagara Falls, where physician delegates from across the country met to put forward many important ideas and directions to transform the country’s health care system.

by CMA Staff

In August, the CMA held its Annual General Meeting in Niagara Falls, where physician delegates from across the country met to put forward many important ideas and directions to transform the country’s health care system.

“Delegates sent clear direction that we must, and will, work together across our profession and most importantly with our patients to confront the challenges facing the health care system,” said outgoing CMA President, Dr. Anne Doig.

Dr. Doig told delegates there is an urgent need to refocus the health care system to put patient needs first, adding that the patient perspective is a vital step in broadening the debate and presenting a united front to governments.

“Putting patients and their needs first really is what we are all about as physicians. That is why our effort to transform our health care system has at its core… the patient-centred approach,” said Dr. Doig.

Leading up the General Council, the CMA unveiled a new policy document entitled, Health Care Transformation in Canada: Change that Works. Care that Lasts. In order to build a culture of patient-centred care, the document calls for the creation of a Charter for Patient-Centred Care.

Several resolutions were approved at the meeting calling for further development of various elements of the proposed Charter, including reviewing the experiences of other countries in implementing similar charters, collaboratively developing focused funding initiatives and promoting patient-centred care as part of the teaching and training of medical students and residents.

Discussions and resolutions regarding health care transformation also focused heavily on sustainability and accountability, which must be improved at all levels of the health care system.

Delegates also stated that reporting and accountability should be important elements in renegotiating the 2004 health accord, which is due to expire in 2014. A resolution was also passed calling on the federal government to move quickly to open discussions with provincial-territorial governments and stakeholders on the soon-to-expire accord.

Delegates also passed a resolution calling on the federal government to reinterpret the principles of the Canada Health Act to reflect changes in the delivery of health care services since its inception in 1984. Another resolution recommended that the CMA establish a working group to study the professional relationship between physicians and the health care system. Its goal is to enable physicians to play a greater role as a responsible partner in management of that system.

Dr. Anne Doig used her final speech as CMA president to draw the Association's line in the sand regarding the future of Canada’s health care system.

“We believe that all Canadians must have timely access to an appropriate array of medically necessary services across the full continuum of care, regardless of their ability to pay,” said Dr. Doig.

“We believe that all health care must be patient centred. We believe that care must be delivered effectively and be well coordinated among all care providers. And we believe that the health care system must be properly resourced to deliver care in a sustainable way that can accommodate our ever-changing needs.”

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Nexus is published quarterly for Newfoundland and Labrador's physicians. It is a forum for the exchange of views, ideas and information for members.