BC NDP health critic Mike Farnworth was in Abbotsford on Tuesday

BC NDP health critic Mike Farnworth was in Abbotsford on Tuesday

Health critic believes system needs to change

During a visit to Abbotsford, NDP's Mike Farnworth said move needed from acute care to chronic disease management.

Funding isn’t the only health issue in B.C. What’s being done with the funds is equally important, according to NDP health critic Mike Farnworth.

Farnworth was in the Fraser Valley Tuesday, talking to local constituents and discussing election issues and concerns with the media.

Because of his position, the subject of health care came up frequently.

“Wait times are still an issue,” he said, telling the story of a local man who has been waiting for almost three years for a two-hour bladder surgery.

“To wait that long is really ridiculous.”

An apparent lack of funding for Fraser Health in comparison to other health authorities is another hot topic. However, Farnworth said there are plenty of factors to be considered.

“It’s not going to be the same for every health authority.”

Population, demographics and hospital specialties are all factors.

“In Vancouver Coastal you’ve got the province-wide children’s (hospital) which services the whole province. You’ve got a lot of provincial-wide services that are based there so that does impact the amount of funding a health authority has.”

Once that is accounted for, he said government still has to make sure each authority is treated equitably and considerations are made for population growth.

“When it doesn’t do that, fast growing health authorities, such as Fraser Health, in essence get penalized.”

Farnworth said health care has to move away from the acute care system to one of chronic disease management.

“If we start to address that, that will impact on some of the challenges and problems we have in the acute care system.”

He said long-term care, community care and home support are all cheaper alternatives to having someone in an acute care bed.

“If you ask most people what they think of the health care system, they think of the hospital and the doctor, which is an integral part of the system, but health care is much more than that.”

Other issues involve people with chronic conditions like diabetes or glaucoma. Farnworth said a patient is diagnosed with a chronic illness, then told to see a specialist once a year, in most cases for the rest of their life.

“In order to see the specialist, he still has to go back to the doctor to get a referral to see that specialist.”

“The question becomes, are there ways of doing things better and more efficiently than we are doing them now?”

He said with the advancement of technology, the health system has to do a better job of sharing information. Hospitals need to talk to each other to avoid overlapping care.

“What I’m hearing is frustration from people. They know it’s not just about pouring more money in the health care system … there’s got to be better ways of doing things.”

According to Farnworth, the government needs to be working with doctors, nurses and other health care professionals to make improvements that actually benefit the system.