Canadians not alone in complaining about health care
© 1999 Canadian Medical Association
A solid majority of Canadians believe that the health care system needs either fundamental change or complete reconstruction, a survey reveals. The poll, by the Harvard University School of Public Health, indicates that more than half of Canadians (56%) feel the system requires additional change. Another 23% said the system is functioning so poorly it needs to be rebuilt.
Citizens in other countries had similar concerns about their health care systems. In New Zealand less than 10% of respondents said their system works well and requires only minor changes, compared with 25% of respondents in the United Kingdom and 17% in the United States. In Canada, the percentage of respondents who agreed that only minor changes were required has dropped from 56% of respondents in 1988 to 20% in 1998.
Many respondents 25% in Canada, 29% in New Zealand and 45% in the United Kingdom cited the level of government funding as the most important problem facing health care. Almost half of all Canadians polled (47%) reported difficulties seeing specialists and consultants, while 38% identified waiting times as the reason people did not get the medical care they required.
Of the 5 countries compared, Canada had the highest percentage of respondents (46%) who believed that recent changes to the health care system will harm the quality of care.
This column was written by Lynda Buske, chief, physician resources information planning, CMA. Readers may send potential research topics to Patrick Sullivan (firstname.lastname@example.org; 613 731-8610 or 800 663-7336 x2126; fax 613 565-2382).
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