Sunday, December 10, 2023

Three reasons why our hospitals are overcrowded

A damning investigation by CBC News recently revealed that “hallway medicine” is now the norm in Ontario. Almost 50 per cent of hospitals in the province regularly operate beyond capacity, with patients accommodated in unconventional spaces including corridors, meeting rooms and even a kitchenette.

While this report shines much-needed light on the shambolic state of Ontario’s health-care system, and surely resonates with Canadians across the country, it’s unfortunately unsurprising. Here are three reasons why.

1) Lack of resources. Canada simply has fewer hospital beds than almost every other universal health-care system in the world. According to age-adjusted data from the OECD, we only have 2.0 acute-care beds per thousand people, ranking 26th out of 27 countries with universal health care. By contrast, Germany has almost three times as many (5.5 per thousand) while Switzerland, France and the Netherlands all have approximately 3 or more acute care beds per thousand. To compound the issue, Canada also generally has fewer physicians and diagnostic imaging scanners (MRI scanners, for example) per capita than these other countries.

Not surprisingly, all these countries also report much shorter wait times, both in the emergency room and for scheduled consultations. For example, 29 per cent of Canadians reported waiting four hours or more for treatment in the emergency room compared to only 4 per cent in the Netherlands. And 18 per cent of Canadians reported waiting four months or more for elective surgery compared to zero per cent in Germany.

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