Wednesday, April 21, 2010

On tourist opportunities

There's rightly been plenty of attention paid to how the Sask Party's negligence has put Saskatchewan's kidney transplant program on hold. But it's particularly worth noting what the Wall government's response has been - as it seems far more interested in building capacity elsewhere rather than using what's already available in Saskatchewan.

Here's Health Minister Don McMorris from yesterday's Hansard on what he's doing in the short term:
(I)n the meantime, Mr. Speaker, we are working with Edmonton to try and increase their capacity. But, Mr. Speaker, more than that, I've instructed the Ministry of Health not only to look across into Alberta, but across Canada to see where we can find capacity so that our citizens will receive care. In fact if it's out of the country, Mr. Speaker, we'd entertain that thought too, Mr. Speaker. We want to ensure that our citizens receive the timely care that they receive. Mr. Speaker, we've just heard that one more patient will be accepted into Edmonton. As of today or yesterday, Mr. Speaker, we have five that are willing or able to receive treatment elsewhere. We're looking for those places.
Now, it's worth noting that the availability of transplants elsewhere makes for cold comfort for the 101 patients on the waiting list who aren't willing or able to go elsewhere. But for those few who are able to go out of province or country, those options are apparently on the table as McMorris sends our resources elsewhere to compensate for his falling asleep on the job.

In contrast, McMorris is apparently deliberately ignoring the possibility of getting the province's own program started back up. Here's McMorris in response to Judy Junor's observation that Saskatchewan now has as many specialists available as it did when the program was previously run successfully:
All three of those specialities are involved in the transplant program, Mr. Speaker. And they are saying that the way the program was run in the past is not the way that it can be run in the future.

That's why we're working with the Health ministry, the Saskatoon Health Region, and the three professional . . . the specialities that make up a transplant program to ensure that we have a transplant program that is secure into the future, that isn't reliant on one physician going sick and the program failing, Mr. Speaker. That isn't the program we want to see. In the short time, we're guaranteeing and ensuring and working as hard as we possibly can that citizens of Saskatchewan will get their care elsewhere.
Now, it's fair enough if one wants to make the point that the system as it existed ought to be changed for the future. And presumably all parties will want to make sure that improvements are made regardless of when Saskatchewan's program is started back up.

But given an obvious option between restarting a transplant system which relies on a suboptimal but workable complement of staff and continuing indefinitely with no transplant availability at all, the Sask Party has inexplicably chosen the latter. And the fact that the Sask Party is apparently perfectly happy sending patients elsewhere for care (or denying it altogether for those who can't travel) because it prefers total failure to an imperfect system should raise plenty of alarm bells for Saskatchewan's patients.

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