Where is the health care leadership?

Recent news stories have highlighted public concern over the issue of chemotherapy treatment in the territory.

Recent news stories have highlighted public concern over the issue of chemotherapy treatment in the territory. While the Yukon NDP Official Opposition agrees that the loss of a chemotherapy nurse and the impact this will have on the people undergoing treatment is unfortunate, the situation justifies a greater response.

First, our sympathies go out to the patients, their families and friends whose lives are being affected by this shortcoming in the health system. The additional stress of possibly having to travel out of the territory for essential treatment is a regrettable additional burden on people already facing daunting challenges.

Second, now is the time for real leadership on health care. Yukoners were fortunate to have years of dedicated and specialized service from an excellent community-based chemotherapy nurse. We believe there was ample time to plan for a continuity of chemotherapy service. This staffing shortage and its impact on patients could have been avoided with good planning.

The current narrow focus on physician and hospital-based acute care has come at the expense of proper planning for and delivery of the full continuum of integrated care that Yukoners need. This includes chemotherapy, dialysis, proper treatment for chronic conditions, mental health services, addictions treatment, and continuing and palliative care.

Delays in implementing regulations for nurse practitioners continue to prevent one piece of the solution for a sustainable health-care system that meets patients’ needs from being put into place. These highly-trained professionals can and will improve the delivery of the health care Yukoners need if given an appropriate role in the system. It’s high time to let them begin.

We believe Yukon’s political leadership needs to refocus its priorities on integrating and delivering the full continuum of patient-centred care. We look forward to the day that Yukon-based health providers work to the full scope of their training to deliver that care.

In the case of the loss of chemotherapy services, the system has let down these 20 patients. More than excuses and explanations, the situation demands a creative solution that delivers positive patient outcomes including the delivery of appropriate care here at home.

Jan Stick,

MLA for Riverdale South

Yukon NDP Official Opposition