Report on Surgical Services : The FMSQ Agrees With the Observations and Recommendations of the Auditor General of Québec
Having taken note of Chapter 6 of the Auditor General of Québec's Report tabled this morning before the National Assembly of Québec, entitled "Performance Audit and Observations of the Sustainable Development Commissioner – Surgical Services," the Fédération des médecins spécialistes du Québec (FMSQ) wishes to share its views.
A POSITIVE ASPECT
The Auditor General mentions that access to surgeries is improving. His report, covering the period 2013-2016, mentions that the number of surgeries has increased by 5.5% over 6 years. Let us emphasize that since 2016, more recent data has shown a decrease of 69% in the number of surgeries on a wait list for more than one year, down from 7,009 to 2,203 as at March 31st of this year. "This is significant progress, especially in view of the conditions that exist in hospital operating suites. We have often repeated that surgeons ask for nothing better than to operate on more patients. However, resources must be available, and that is a responsibility of the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux (MSSS)," underlines the President of the Federation, Dr Diane Francœur.
BUT OBSERVATIONS DATE BACK TO 2008
In general, the FMSQ shares both the observations and recommendations contained in this report which are almost identical to the ones the FMSQ and the MSSS had formulated when they jointly toured operating suites in 2008.
The main observations recorded at the time, and reiterated when the MSSS tabled its Bills, still apply today : obsolete suites and equipment, unacceptable management of supplies, irreconcilable data and computer systems unable to manage waiting lists and track care, sub-optimal use of operating rooms, lack of staff, etc. The FMSQ also deplores the merger of institutions imposed through Bill 10 which, far from having contributed to improving matters, has made management more complex within hospital centres, including management of operating suites and access mechanisms.
Dr Francœur believes that "a drastic change of direction is needed in the collection, treatment and availability of data for the management and operation of operating suites. There is a lack of information everywhere; medical specialists have long been asking for reliable statistics, up-to-date lists and probative data, and have never received them. It's abnormal that in 2018, this is not an absolute priority for the public healthcare system."
In addition, the FMSQ considers that parallel or causal links cannot be drawn between the increase in the number of surgeries, direct expenses by institutions for surgeries and the increase in the remuneration of medical specialists. Moreover, the catching-up in remuneration, which has been ongoing since 2006 and which has been put off several times to now reach 2023, has an impact on the increase in percentages and results from well-known circumstances.
"The Auditor General's Report draws a profile of three institutions, but we know that this same reality holds sway everywhere in Quebec. Patients should not have to wait beyond prescribed delays; they should also be aware of the real situation in healthcare institutions insofar as access to surgery and waiting lists are concerned. Medical specialists are committed to cooperating actively in the search for solutions to the problems one-by-one in each institution to improve the management of operating suites. Transparency is essential and data must be accessible to everyone," concludes Dr Francœur.