As chapters distant from the federal political scene and often from the provincial scene, it is difficult to make a significant difference in public health care. We challenge the federal government to reinstitute the federal Health Accord and enforce the Canada Health Act. We oppose the creeping privatization of our provincial health care system and recommend enhancement of specific sectors such as home care. However, it is at the local scene where chapters can identify where action is needed and make strong recommendations to improve the public health care system at your very doorstep.
One example is from Peterborough ON where last fall it was suddenly announced that $57 million had been misallocated at the local hospital – “accounting errors” – and accordingly not been spent. Around the same time the CEO had been escorted from the hospital with no explanation and three other officials had resigned. Accountability from the Administration and the Board was totally inadequate. People were alarmed. Fears were that patient care had been compromised.
The Peterborough and Kawarthas chapter, operating with the Peterborough Health Coalition, took on this local controversy, demanding proper accountability from the hospital, effectively representing the community at large. The media was thoroughly engaged and looked to PHC as the effective local watchdog which we have always wanted to be. Direct lobby of the Board to operate as a community, not closed, board was undertaken. Details of this current health care story in Peterborough will be provided in a second blog shortly.
In the meantime it is advisable for chapters to seek real or potential health care issues locally and decide, with local allies perhaps, how to make a significant difference. For example: attracting family physicians, expanding home care, opposing cuts to services (though denied) at your local hospital, and easing the difficulty of access to public health care services for marginalized populations. There is where chapters can make a significant difference.