Ralph Klein has gone and it is time to retire Ralph's World. Thanks to all of you who have supported this venture by contributing material and through your comments. It has been fun.

Should we get another blog underway? Let me know your thoughts by e-mailing me at johnnyslow@gmail.com.

John Slow
January 1, 2007

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Private Hospitals - Bad Idea 

Albertans have just had two conferences on the future of healthcare in this province;

Weighing the Evidence, sponsored by the Friends of Medicare
Unleashing Innovation in Health Systems sponsored by the Alberta Government - Health and Wellness.

Both conferences provided excellent speakers from Europe, New Zealand, Australia and the United States in addition to a number of Canadian speakers. The Friends of Medicare Conference was open to anyone who wanted to attend while the government conference was by invitation only. But in all fairness to the government, they did provide full coverage of their conference over the internet. In addition, they invited many Albertans who oppose "The Third Way" to their closed event.

The government chose not to have any Tory MLAs attended the Friends of Medicare conference nor did anyone from Alberta Health and Wellness appear to be there. Too bad. We would have more confidence in our decision makers if we thought they could expose themselves to opposing point-of-view before making their decisions. Another disappointment was the fact that only one speaker was asked to present at both conferences, a measure perhaps of how far apart the two sides are.

That one speaker was Dr. Alan Maynard, Professor, Department of Health Sciences, University of York (UK). He was very blunt in his assessment of the effectiveness of Private-for-Profit hospitals. He said that all the studies have shown that Private-for-Profit hospitals cost the health system more and kill more patients than publicly funded hospitals . That, he said should clearly end the debate on that aspect of health care delivery. But he issued this warning from his experience in the UK.

"It’s the evidence, stupid. We know what things work. But for a lot of other things, we don’t know the efficacy. In terms of private hospitals, investor owned hospitals are more expensive and less safe. In spite of that evidence, in the UK they are moving to privatize more hospitals. Use the evidence. Make the right decisions."

Private hospitals are a bad idea. Will the Klein government heed the advice of the medical experts they hired to advise them? Will they use the evidence? Or will they follow their right-wing "private is always better" instincts?

We'll have to wait and see.

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