The problem with politics….

The problem with politics is…. it’s so political.

It’s really not a subject matter I feel qualified to comment on but, then again, is anyone?

Anyway, a couple of health-realted stories yesterday I thought were interesting.

The first was a new report on a new trauma health centre for NB.

The Telegraph Journal ran a story entitled: Edge to SAINT JOHN and followed it up with an editorial: TRAUMA CHOICE IS A NO BRAINER.

However, not to be outdone and looked at exactly the same report, the Times & Transcript runs an editorial called: Moncton deserves trauma designation

Both citing the exact same research as their rationale.

The truth is that the TJ would push for SJ and the T&T regardless of any report (and so they should, I guess). But the media influences public opinion and the strongly worded editorial pages (you can bet there will be dozens more – particularly the T&T) will put increasing political pressure on the health minister.

Good luck to him. It would be nice if there was an impartial way to get stuff like this done. But in a small and still quite poor province, this type of facility and its economic activity will be fought over in both the media and at the Cabinet table. Likely it will end up with some form of compromise. The trauma centre going to community x but community y will get something else.

The other funny editorial in the oft silly T&T was around the supposed ‘trial balloon’ served up yesterday about the amalgamation of health authorities in New Brunswick. Here’s what old Al Hogan or his proxy had to say. Vintage stuff:

Rumours that the New Brunswick Department of Health will drastically reduce the eight regional health authorities in the province to four or even two resurfaced again this week. We suspect at this point they are trial balloons deliberately foisted by Health Minister Michael Murphy’s department. This silly game is serving no purpose other than poisoning the atmosphere across the province. It is a silly and dangerous game that must stop.

Now, first of all, it is just as likely that the ‘trial balloon’ was ‘foisted’ by either a departmental person or someone else in the system to make the minister look bad. I have no proof either way but the T&T’s assumption shows a lack of understanding of the relationship between a Minister, his/her department and people in the ‘system’.

Secondly, why the venom over this issue? There are two health authorities in all of British Columbia – a province with 4.3 million people. We need eight in New Brunswick? I can see the T&T taking a position one way or the other but with some venom as ‘silly and dangerous’?

I’ll tell you want is ‘silly and dangerous’. A newspaper editor trying to use his platform to ‘foist’ his own narrowly construed ideology on the public. That’s what is silly.

I read every day the Toronto Star, the National Post, the Globe & Mail, the Daily Gleaner, the TJ, the Chronicle Herald, the Guardian, the Vancouver Province, the Calgary Herald, the Edmonton Journal and the Winnipeg Free Press (more or less).

There is no question that the T&T is – by far – the most prone to use the paper for purely ideological reasons. Sure, all those other papers have some editorial bias – but the T&T is the only one that will run 11 straight front page stories on the Toll Highway (remember that?). The T&T is the only one that will run 30+ stories/editorials on the ‘cath lab’ issue. The T&T is the only one that will beat the taxation issue over and over and over again – day in and day out. The T&T is the only one that hammered the NB Power rate increases – on a daily basis – for weeks in a row.

The other papers covered it. Sometimes had strong opinions. Maybe even ran a second or a third story. But where the others might run 2-3 stories, Al Hogan will run 30 – but only if it’s something he wants to hammer. Other stories will get little or no coverage at all.

Sorry for the Al Hogan rant but it has been a few months since my last one and I feel this issue deserved a rant. The health system in New Brunswick is crumbling under too much overhead. This is not just a cost issue – it’s about timeliness of decision making and efficiency.

Al Hogan constantly rants about taxes being too high and the says it’s ‘silly and dangerous’ to look at ways to control fast rising costs to the public like health care.

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0 Responses to The problem with politics….

  1. Kit says:

    That “trial balloon” about amalgamation of the regional health authorities caused a wee bit of consternation down this way. There is no doubt that multiple regional health administrations in NB is redundant, wasteful and inefficient given the size of the population.
    And there is no doubt that these regional health administrations are bloated, overstaffed and top heavy with “suits” and few front end health care workers.
    If you need proof. Count the cars in the staff parking lots of any hospital during the week, and then count again on weekends, and you will have an idea as to who is essential and is actually delivering front line health care.
    Administration vs. delivery is out of balance.
    When you add to this the fact that most of the front end delivery workers – the ones who actually treat patients – are part time, contract employees without benefits (a cost cutting measure implemented a few years ago) and the 6 or 7 layers of administration and management (River Valley has 7 layers of management) who are permanent salaried or union employees – the workers get nervous with amalgamation rumours. Because it is the front end delivery people who will loose their jobs so that management can go back on the floors and keep theirs…

    There is no doubt there are too many authorities, but there is no confidence that any amalgamation will be done right and protect the rights of both patients and current front end workers. The belief is that only management will survive.

    One need only look at where and how the current round of savings are being met to understand the concern.