Access to specialists and diagnostic tests given failing grades
Canadians reported a decline in the quality of health care they're receiving, finds a Canadian Medical Association survey released Monday, though regional pockets of satisfaction do exist.
According to the CMA's seventh annual national report card on health care, which surveyed 1,001 Canadian adults on their views about Canada's health-care system, 62 per cent of Canadians grade the overall quality of health-care services available to them and their families as an A (21 per cent) or B (41 per cent), a decrease from 67 per cent in 2006.
Access to health care for children was rated well by survey respondents: 22 per cent gave it an A.
The most-satisfied respondents were in the Atlantic provinces, where 35 per cent graded the overall quality of health-care services as an A.
Quebec residents were the least happy of those surveyed, with only 14 per cent giving their health-care services an A.
Access to health care was an area that showed wide disparities in response: 29 per cent of respondents assigned an A grade for access to family doctors in their community, and 26 per cent gave an A for access to walk-in clinics.
However, the report highlights that access to family doctors and emergency rooms has been falling consistently since 2003.
"The chief evolving concern is a lack of access to family doctors," CMA president Colin McMillan, told CBC News.
Access to health care by children and seniors was also seen as good, with 22 per cent of respondents assigning an A to access for children and 17 per cent granting an A to access for seniors.
"There is a lot of concern about access to care," said McMillan. "We need more doctors, we need more nurses, and we need more health-care providers.
"Wait times are really a symptom of lack of capacity and the chief lack of capacity that we have is human and professional."
Specialists and tests hard to come by:
Access to specialists and diagnostic tests were two categories that generated poor scores. Twenty-one per cent of Canadians surveyed gave access to medical specialists an F, and 19 per cent gave the same grade for access to modern diagnostic equipment, such as MRI or CT scans.
Twenty-one per cent awarded an F for access to health-care services on evenings and weekends and 16 per cent awarded an F for access to mental health-care services.
'Wait times are really a symptom of lack of capacity and the chief lack of capacity that we have is human and professional.'
The percentage of Canadians who are happy with the federal government's action on health care has also declined, with 33 per cent giving it an A (29 per cent) or B (42 per cent), down from 39 per cent in 2006.
And provincial governments weren't seen as dealing very well with health care, with only 35 per cent of respondents grading them an A or B, a significantly lower percentage from 43 per cent in 2006.
Overall, the prognosis isn't very positive, the report finds. The proportion of Canadians surveyed who believe health-care services will either get much or somewhat better in the next two to three years has declined to 49 per cent — a sharp drop from 56 per cent in 2006.
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