Shortage Of Physicians In Canada Essay

2137 words - 9 pages

In the past decade, Canada’s population has grown from 5,301,000 in 1900 to over 34,030,589 in 2011, driven mainly by immigration (Central Intelligence Agency, 2011). By 2056 it is expected, one in four Canadians will be 65 years or older, compared to 13 per cent currently. This will put a huge strain on the country’s health care system (Macleans, 2008 p.2). The future of Canada’s health care system is at great risk due to its escalating and aging population. This is triggering a shortage of physicians, particularly anesthesiologists, in some provinces of Canada (Canadian Medicine Journal, 2007). Anesthesiologists are specialist physicians who provide critical care to patients in a number of ...view middle of the document...

Since many Canadians do not have access to health care professionals, such as anesthesiologists, hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars are wasted, and there’s a decline in the quality and safety of patient care. According to the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) and the Royal College of Physician and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) it is estimated that for clinical and non-clinical facilities a requirement of 3,265 full-time equivalent (FTE) anesthesiologists will be needed in 2016 (Craig, Byrick, & Carli, 2002). Considering the ages of recent anesthesiologists, the increased demand for anesthesiologists and the current rate of graduation from RCPSC-approved training programs in Canada a short-fall of more than 656 full time equivalents is identified for the period 2000-2016 (Canadian Journal of Anesthesia, 2002).
As a result, existing shortages have been worse and the supply of health human resources is affecting health outcomes such as: the quality of care and inaccessibility to care. The shortage of anesthesiologists means patients receive less quality care and have their safety put at risk more often. Anesthesiologists are specialist physicians who provide critical around-the-clock care. Women in labour receive pain relief and life-saving care, anesthetized patients safely undergo surgery, and chronic pain patients get the relief they urgently need. However, these things are only possible if patients have access to an anesthesiologist (British Columbia Anesthesiologist Association, 2006). Not only are hospitals delaying surgeries and increasing wait times, dental offices, podiatric, ophthalmologic and plastic surgery facilities are as well. In British Columbia, the wait times for surgery are rising instead of declining. Since 2001, the number of patients being forced to wait for surgery has increased 40%. In December 2010, there were 74,981 patients who were delayed for their surgery in BC. To further exacerbate the situation, since 2001 the wait-times for surgery has increased by approximately 50%. Furthermore, cancer patients are suffering with chronic pain because on average they wait one to two years for an appointment to see an anesthesiologist for specialized pain treatments (BCAA, 2006). The government is not taking enough action to eliminate the issue of long wait times for surgeries; the Supreme Court of Canada says: “access to a waiting list is not access to health care” (CBC, 2006).
Each year, BC taxpayers invest over $2 billion to run operating rooms all over the province but, as a result of the shortage of anesthesiologists these operating rooms go unused (BCAA, 2011). Moreover, there are some reported gaps in the management of patients with chronic conditions due to the lack of timely access to care (CBC, 2011). Unavailability of anesthesiologists and resources is costing Canadian's money without delivering care. Dartmouth Atlas Project (2010) reported that in the last five years alone, inefficiencies associated with the...

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