Major changes are needed for Canada's sacred cow - its healthcare system, says Colin Patey.
Patey, president and CEO of Chatham-Kent Health Alliance, told members of the Golden K Kiwanis Club Thursday the health care system, that he once touted as the best in the world, has gone downhill in recent years.
Patey said fundamental changes are needed at all levels of government
"Bringing about changes will be a major challenge because Canadians consider healthcare their sacred cow,'' he said. "In fact we are the only country in the world that defines ourselves by our health care system - we've got to get over it.''
He said it's best Canadians get over that notion and the sooner the better.
Patey said Canada is the only country in the world that doesn't have a recognized private care system. He said Europe has a mix of public and private health care.
"Canada has higher costs, longer wait times and lower outcomes,'' he said.
He said out of the top 33 countries Canada's life expectancy is 12th, diabetes is 8th, heart health is 12th, cancer is 15th and infant mortality is 26th.
"We have the largest wait time to see a specialist and the second worst wait time for elective surgery,'' he told his audience.
Patey said CKHA has a highly-qualified orthopaedic staff with good capacity but currently is without funding for hip and knee replacements.
"And we won't have any funding from the government until April,'' he said.
Patey said Canada's health care system is complex and is not delivering value for the money. He said other countries are doing much better.
"And in the future there will be more to care for and less to tax,'' he said. "In Canada 49 cents of every tax dollar goes into health care.''
He said Canada is at the top of the list for expenditures when it comes to drugs and doctor remuneration and at the bottom when it comes to the use of electronic technologies.
Patey said Canada is below average for administration spending of the top 33 countries.
The hospital administrator said his focus is on having the best emergency department possible at CKHA.
"We have a large number of highly qualified physicians in all departments,'' he said. "But we are short by at least seven emergency doctors.''
Before joining CKHA in 2010, Patey spent 10 years with InterHealth Canada Ltd, a global healthcare management firm that specialized in the development and management of healthcare facilities and projects worldwide.
He was a member of the senior team that commissioned and operated a 335-bed trauma and multi-specialty hospital in Abu Dhabi.
He also led the design, building, staffing and management of an orthopaedic hospital in Runcorn Cheshire, United Kingdom.