Saskatchewan Party government eroding public health care system, say critics.
Regina (1 Sept. 2010) - The Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region has started booking surgeries at a private clinic to be paid for by Canada's publicly-funded health care system.
The move was announced by the Saskatchewan Party government as a means to cut down on surgical wait times.
The government said it wants to reduce surgical wait times to no more than three months by 2014 and hopes that using clinics will help it eliminate backlogs.
According to Health Ministry statistics, almost 27,000 patients across Saskatchewan were on surgical waiting lists as of June 30.
Of the roughly 40,000 patients who received surgery in the first six months of the year, about 7,200 had to wait longer than three months. About 800 had been waiting more than 18 months, the government says.
Health Minister Don McMorris says the private clinics will operate within the existing health care system. Patients will not have to pay and no one will be allowed to jump the queue, he claims.
Opposition parties and the province's nurses' union have expressed concerns that public health care is being eroded by the private sector.
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