Doctors, nurses offer premiers health-reform principles for Vancouver meeting

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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OTTAWA — Canada’s doctors and nurses want the premiers to put together a national reform package for the health-care system focused on patients, quality of care, health promotion and illness prevention.

The Canadian Medical Association and the Canadian Nurses Association say the system must also be equitable, sustainable and accountable.

The associations released this set of principles for health reform as the premiers prepared for three days’ of meetings in Vancouver this week, which is to include a full-day discussion of health reform.

The premiers meet aboriginal leaders Wednesday, then discuss jobs, the economy and the future funding of health care during sessions Thursday and Friday.

The associations said the premiers should focus on a national reform plan and should bring health care to a full-fledged first ministers’ meeting by the spring.

“A health-care system that is universal, sustainable and truly centred on the needs of patients demands pan-Canadian standards for which all levels of government share responsibility,” said Dr. Jeff Turnbull, president of the CMA.

“No matter where they live, Canadians deserve a system that provides a seamless continuum of care. To achieve this, governments must be guided by a common set of principles.”

The federal-provincial health-care accord expires in 2014 and the federal, provincial and territorial governments are all looking at ways to improve the system without increasing costs.

During the spring election campaign, the federal Tories committed to increasing health-care transfers by six per cent a year for at least two years following the expiry of the accord.

But they have not yet negotiated what strings will be attached to the funding, nor have they decided what will happen after two years.

The talks come as most provincial budgets are under intense pressure, and health-care costs are rising.

The medical association is a voluntary, professional organization representing over 74,000 physicians. The nurses association represents almost 144,000 registered nurses.

Organizations: Canadian Medical Association

Geographic location: Vancouver, OTTAWA, Canada

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