"The fundamental thing we did wrong is the basic lesson you learn in every school of business, when you have a problem, first you explain it to everybody." - Blair Suffredine, defeated Liberal MLA from Nelson talking to CBC, May 25, 2005
I recall the 2001 election in Nelson, where Blair Suffredine told the community the new health centre for Nelson would proceed. In fact Corky Evans went so far as to say "anyone that is elected, will see that the health centre would be built." Corky and Blair were both wrong and it is understandable they were. Campbell had promised more and better healthcare, closer to home. No project better described closer to home care than the Nelson Health Centre project. The failure of this project and the reduced services in Nelson and neighbouring communities led the Liberals to defeat.
The Liberals did not tell us what they were planning. They implemented a health care system run by regional CEO's. The people they placed on the boards were just that business people used to finding efficienties, selling their product and or delivering a service. What they did not know or appreciate is that Health care in Canada can not be run on a simple business model.
The simple business model suggested that providing managers with large bonuses for cutting costs and staffing would generate huge savings over all and allow for more expanded and better services. That did not happen. First the boards met in secret, sent out memos to senior managers to supply them with budgets that saw a 5, 10 and 25% cuts.
The easiest solutions included cutting services and or closing facilities. Hospitals were closed. Emergency wards closed, lab work contracted out, laundry shipped to Alberta for cleaning, food centralized and shipped to other facilities.
The change left one very important group of people out of the mix. Local citizens were not consulted. Decisions were made in secret in a board room, by business people, not health care workers, not local people, not you or I.
Blair Suffredine is underestimating the Liberal government's failings. It was not just the failure of communicating the change that health boards messed up, it was in not involving all of us in making the decision(s) in the first place.