May 23, 2024

Holistic Pulse

Healthcare is more important

How do we fix the health-care system?

2 min read

Health-care challenges have been front and centre for years now, and one expert says solving some of the issues could be as easy as redirecting spending away from this specific sector.

According Paul Kershaw, a UBC professor in the School of Population and Public Health, the issue isn’t the number of doctors — of whom he says there are plenty. Kershaw’s latest research shows there’s been a steady increase in the number of family physicians per capita for years.

Rather, he wonders if the focus should be on other things that play a major role in a person’s health.

Kershaw, the founder of Generation Squeeze, which is behind a new report, says focusing on social services would lead to an easing in the emergency room and health-care system in general.

“Evidence is clear that Canadians will ‘get well’ when we invest in safe and affordable homes, living wages, quality child care and schools, and a healthy environment — even more urgently than we invest in medical care. We used to follow this prescription decades ago. It’s time to return to this wisdom,” the report reads.

“When asked by pollsters what policy areas should receive priority attention for additional taxpayer funding, medical care is generally at or near the top. It has become a cultural habit to think this way. This explains why public dialogue often centres around questions like: How much more we should invest in medical care? Whether funding should be delivered through public or private clinics? Or how much of it should be used to pay doctors?”

Kershaw and co-author Andrea Long, senior director, Research and Knowledge Mobilization at Generation Squeeze, note investing in health care and doctors is still critical. However, they say pouring money only into this area won’t cut it.

“These issues are important, but they will never be enough to make us healthy because the medical system was designed to treat people after they’ve fallen ill or been injured. It wasn’t designed to create health,” the report explains.

Earlier this month, Health Minister Adrian Dix said B.C. had the highest number of family physicians per capita in Canada.

In an update on Feb. 9 about access to primary care, Dix said more than 4,000 physicians had signed up since the province’s new family doctor payment model was launched a year ago. As of December 2023, there were about 5,000 doctors “working in longitudinal primary care,” he added.


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