TORONTO, April 18, 2007 – Ontario’s nurses are welcoming new evidence that compares the American and Canadian health-care systems. They say the evidence should raise a red flag to those in this country who believe there’s nothing wrong with for-profit delivery.
“This study adds to the solid body of evidence that shows our single-payer, not-for-profit health-care system provides good quality, efficient health care for all Canadians,” says Mary Ferguson-Paré, President of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO). “It confirms for all Canadians that moving to a parallel, for-profit system will worsen any problems we currently have.”
The latest research, published today in the inaugural edition of the online journal Open Medicine, makes an important contribution to the Canadian health-care debate. The study, by McMaster University researcher P.J. Devereaux, reviewed and compared the outcomes of American and Canadian patients with identical illnesses. Despite per capita health-care spending in the United States that is more than double Canada’s, 14 of the 38 studies showed better outcomes in Canada, while only five showed better outcomes for the United States. The remaining 19 studies showed equivalent or mixed results in the two nations. It is important to note that few uninsured American patients were included in the studies examined.
“We have long known that mortality and morbidity rates are higher in for-profit clinics than in not-for-profit health-care organizations,” says RNAO Executive Director Doris Grinspun, adding for-profit clinics often cherry pick patients and cut corners to make profits for shareholders. “Private clinics also drain surgeons, nurses and other scarce health practitioners away from the public sector. That leaves the public sector with fewer staff to care for more complex patients,” she says.
RNAO says rather than turning to for-profit options to solve issues like wait times, politicians should instead focus on not-for-profit solutions that have been proven to work. For example, in Alberta, public clinics have reduced hip and knee-replacement wait times from an average of 47 weeks to 4.7 weeks.
The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional association representing registered nurses wherever they practise in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has lobbied for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses’ contribution to shaping the health-care system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve.