[September 5, 2007 @ 10:32 am] David Hogberg

While wait times for a mole examination are indicative of the problems we have with the health care system in the U.S., better to deal with that than what they deal with in Canada:

A shortage of urologists has become so pronounced that patients’ lives are at risk, managers of a St. John’s-based health authority have been warned.

In a powerfully worded letter to the Eastern Health regional authority, urologist Dr. Douglas Drover said an “excessive volume of work” in the specialty has meant waiting times of almost a year for patients seeking treatment.

Not exactly one of those problems that you can take two aspirin and call me in morning:

Andy Grant, a member of a prostate cancer support group in St. John’s, said he is afraid that people will die — or already have — while waiting for surgery.

“First of all, [patients deal with] the shock you might have prostate cancer, then the shock of being confirmed with prostate cancer,” he said. “Now you have the shock of saying, ‘I have to wait until next year?’ “

And what is the government’s response? What it always is, trot out a “new” government strategy to solve the problem:

Health Minister Ross Wiseman said the government is working on a solution to staffing shortages in urology and other areas.

“We’re in the process now of developing a physician human resource plan, and we hope to be able to, either in the early fall or late winter, roll out that strategy,” Wiseman said.

The more I read about the Canadian health care system, the more I think it should have the moniker “Operation Wheelspin.”


  1. Bertrand Says:

    You are talking about St. John’s, Newfoundland. Way, way off the east coast of Canada. There are only seven urologists there to begin with due to its isolation from the rest of the country. Unless you are born in Newfoundland, practically no doctors will want to practice there. That is the real issue here. Having U.S. style coverage wouldn’t make any difference either. Newfoundland is just too isolated and not attractive enough for doctors outside of there to want to uproot and move there.

    What you also failed to point out in the rest of the column was the situation in Nova Scotia.
    “Drover’s letter said Nova Scotia, with less than double the population of Newfoundland, has more than four times the number of urologists, with 29.”

  2. David Hogberg Says:

    Yes, but as I’ve chronicled here and at my own blog, ‘Health Hog’, the problem isn’t limited to Newfoundland. And how would the point about Nova Scotia have weakened my case. It only further shows that Canada’s medical system interferes with supply and demand.

    However, you are right, U.S. style coverage probably wouldn’t make a huge improvement, since it isn’t based on supply and demand.

Add a comment

To prevent spam, you will need to enter the two words below before your post is accepted: