Flemming's health plan sounds familiar, says analyst
Dr. Michael Rachlis says 5-year health-care plan has excellent goals but no hard targets
A leading health-care analyst says the plan put forward Monday by Health Minister Ted Flemming to revamp health care in New Brunswick reminds him of the plans of many of Flemming's predecessors.
Flemming pledged to put patients first in the health-care system, with less emphasis on facilities. Another key pledge of the five-year plan is to engage the public in bringing change to the system.
Dr. Michael Rachlis, a Toronto-based health policy analyst, has heard much of it before.
"We've known for 25 years in New Brunswick, I've got reports on my shelf going back that long, talking about beefing up primary health care, family physicians, nurse practitioners, getting clinics going, interdisciplinary clinics," said Rachlis. "But again … it's been very difficult to execute."
Rachlis said the plan introduced by Flemming on Monday has excellent goals, but no hard targets. Without targets, it will be impossible for Flemming and the province to measure if the desired changes have been achieved, he said.
The pledge to engage the public is a good idea, but is also short on details, Rachlis told CBC News.
"Where is the process to engage patients?" he said. "Where's the process to get those indicators going?
"I think the minister is going to need to get a few more details and going to need a political plan to make sure that his plan is going to be more successful than the other plans I have on my shelf going back to 1989," said Rachlis.
Flemming acknowledged the public has reason to be skeptical because too many similar plans have been promised in the past, but governments never followed through with the planned changes.
"Things are different now," said Flemming.
Earlier this month, Flemming said he sees a need to put the care of patients back in health care in New Brunswick. He was responding to a former nursing professor's account of her husband's final seven months in hospital.
Penny Ericson's 27-page document, titled Carl Ericson's Last Class, detailed her observations in the Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital in Fredericton, pointing out poor sanitation and a lack of professionalism by staff as key issues of concern.