Doctors across Canada who oppose the privatization of healthcare are applauding the results of a presidential election at the Doctors of BC.
Public health care advocate Dr. Alan Ruddiman defeated private health care champion Dr. Brian Day in a run-off vote.
Dr. Michael Klein, a professor emeritus in UBC family practice, says Day is a lightning rod for disgruntled physicians.
“That’s just diverting your anger toward Dr. Day who presents himself as a person who will solve all of your problems, but he won’t, we will actually destroy Medicare, and the public has been very clear about how they feel about their priorities.”
Vancouver family physician, Dr. Vanessa Brcic, says the 50% voter-turn out this time around is unprecedented.
“Doctors are very divided about how the system should be improved. And doctors on both side of the debate, doctors who feel that it should be improved by expanding for profit care, and doctors who feel the public system should be improved for the benefit of everyone; both of those doctors feel very strongly about their positions.”
SFU health policy analyst, Karen Palmer, will be paying close attention to Day’s constitutional challenge in the fall.
She says if Day wins the case, the limitations on private payment of medically necessary care would be over-turned, so instead of care being delivered on the basis of need, it would be provided first to those who can pay.
“I think the solution to all of this is not to change how we pay for care, but to improve how we deliver it. We could do a much better job of pressuring governments, both the provincial government and the federal government, to collaborate with clinical leaders to improve our care delivery system. Where we disagree is what’s broken and what is not broken. So many of us feel that the delivery system needs reform, not how we pay for the care.”
She says the other problem with dual practice, and a private/public health care system, is a potential conflict of interest, making some doctors ethically uncomfortable.
Day has launched a constitutional challenge of B.C.’s restrictions on private health care, and a trial that has been delayed several times but is expected to go ahead later this year.
He has not responded to requests for an interview.