Cuts to podiatry services put Sask. patients at risk of hospitalization, amputation: Opposition

Saskatchewan's Opposition health critic says cuts to podiatry services in Saskatchewan are shortsighted and likely to end up costing the public more in the long run.

Calls for government to reverse $1.2M cut to podiatry services in spring budget

Opposition health critic Danielle Chartier says cutting podiatry services is shortsighted and likely to cost the system far more in the long run. (Craig Edwards/CBC)

Saskatchewan's Opposition health critic says cuts to podiatry services in Saskatchewan are shortsighted and will cost the public more in the long run.

Danielle Chartier held a news conference with podiatrists and their patients at the Legislature on Thursday morning to call on the government to reverse a $1.2 million cut to podiatry services in its spring budget.

"A government who wants to reduce emergency department wait times, this will go in exactly the opposite direction," she said. 

"But on a personal level, this will mean the loss of limbs."

Chartier says people with serious serious foot ailments — including diabetics — will now face hospital visits and possible amputation instead.

Lorelei Rogers drives from her home in Limerick to see her podiatrist in Moose Jaw every six or seven weeks since a stroke left her unable to care for her own feet. (Craig Edwards/CBC)

Lorelei Rogers, who turns 79 next week, sees a podiatrist for her feet, after a stroke left her unable to reach them herself. 

She says keeping seniors like her healthy allows them to contribute and stay out of the hospital or long-term care homes.

"I'm a village councillor. I sit on committees at my church. I sit on committees within the community. And I can do that because I'm healthy and living in my own home," she said. 

Dr. Ata Stationwala treats Rogers at his clinic in Moose Jaw. He is also president of the Saskatchewan College of Podiatrists. 

He says the provincial cuts will double or triple the current $40 cost per visit, which will mean some patients can no longer afford it.

Dr. Ata Stationwala, president of the Saskatchewan College of Podiatrists, said cutting back on services for high-risk patients will lead to hospitalization and amputation of limbs. (Craig Edwards/CBC)

Stationwala says many of his patients are diabetics and others at high risk of developing infections. 

"When those wounds don't heal or if they get infected then that's when those patients end up in hospital, that's when they end up on IV antibiotics, admitted into hospital and unfortunately, eventually, limb loss."

The provincial government said podiatry services are not considered a core component of the public health care system.

It says many other provinces, including Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, P.E.I., and Newfoundland and Labrador, provide no coverage for podiatrist services.

The province said it will continue to cover the service for low-income people receiving government benefits.

It says others will have to access treatment through the private system.