President’s Message

October 2015

I am pleased to be writing to you as President of the Ontario Association of Cardiologists. I wish to thank the OAC’s Board Members for their ongoing commitment, support and counsel. I also would like to thank the OAC membership for the confidence that they have bestowed upon me during these troubled times for health care in Ontario, particularly as they relate to cardiology.

In January 2015, the provincial Liberal government of Kathleen Wynne hit healthcare with unilateral cuts as part of their deficit reduction plan. Cardiology was targeted especially hard. These cuts were implemented without consultation with the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) Section on Cardiology, or the Ontario Association of Cardiologists (OAC).

Recently, on October 1, 2015, the government enacted additional, new fee cuts to the Physician Schedule of Benefits. The cumulative impact of these two rounds of cuts is devastating to cardiac care in Ontario. In less than a year, the Liberal government has slashed funding for non-invasive cardiac testing by up to a total of 25%. In no uncertain terms, this will impact the delivery of cardiac services.

The facts speak for themselves:

  • Heart Disease is the #1 Killer of Ontarians.
  • Once diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure, the average patient lives only 2.1 years.

The OAC knows that blindly cutting support for the Congestive Heart Failure patient, who is the most vulnerable, at their greatest time of need is simply wrong. The OAC knows that change and new approaches to providing access and services is something that should be continually investigated but that disruptive approaches like this, without input from OAC’s cardiac experts, needlessly jeopardizes lives and is wrong.

The OAC has for years met and engaged with the OMA and the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care to find new and better ways to save lives while saving healthcare dollars. We have promoted and helped with the development of appropriateness guidelines for diagnostic testing (standards for the provision of echocardiography services) and offered to take part in the accreditation of testing facilities. Recently, we presented a pilot project, the CHF Regional Hubs Initiative, to the Ministry that focused on closing the gap between hospital and community-based CHF care. Despite the fact this initiative is endorsed by world-class cardiologists and patients, the government rejected it.

With the Wynne Liberal government determined to not listen to cardiologists and to rely instead on the advice of accountants and conceptual-consultants, the OAC is forced to step up our awareness and public information communications. We want to hear from cardiologists and the public on how the cuts will affect them. We have created a petition on this website to help persuade government to consult cardiologists before they attempt to develop new programs or modify existing ones. The standard of cardiac care must not be jeopardized. The OAC is committed to helping ensure Ontario continues to receive the best cardiac care available.

Please explore our website to learn more and then add your voice to help save lives. I look forward to hearing from you all.

James Swan, M.D. F.R.C.P. (C) F.A.C.C.
President
Ontario Association of Cardiologists

 

James Swan, M.D. F.R.C.P. (C) F.A.C.C.
President
Ontario Association of Cardiologists