Physiotherapists 'stand ready' to help solve the 'dire situation' facing Canada's health care system
Canadian physiotherapists ‘stand ready’ to step in and help solve the ‘dire situation’ facing the country’s creaking healthcare system, prime minister Justin Trudeau has been informed.
The Canadian Physiotherapy Association spelled out its stance in a letter sent to Mr Trudeau and his deputy, Chrystia Freeland, earlier this month (12 October).
As a first step, the CPA reiterated its call for the creation of inter-ministerial task force, in which federal government representatives and other stakeholders could meet with physiotherapists to seek solutions to the current problems. Among other issues, the letter suggested that task force members could ‘explore solutions to optimise the use of physiotherapy expertise and increase access to physiotherapy services’.
'Our healthcare system is facing substantial pressure from an aging population, pandemic fatigue among frontline healthcare workers, and increased stress on emergency rooms. It is a dire situation that requires decisive action and solutions that can be implemented immediately.'
‘Physiotherapists stand ready to help address Canada’s greatest health challenges, including the urgent need to support the country’s aging population and those living with chronic pain, to assisting Canadians living with long Covid, and to increase non-pharmacological pain management care,' the CPA told the prime minister and his deputy.
‘Physiotherapy is already recognized as part of the Canada Health Act, but we, as a profession, are underutilised in our current health system. We know we can do more to support patients and our fellow primary care providers in delivering high-quality care across the health system spectrum, whether at home, in a community or primary care clinic, in a treatment facility, or in the emergency room.’
The CPA had already set out its in a pre-budget submission to Canada’s standing committee on finance. This said that ‘optimising the use of physiotherapy services and expertise is one of the simplest, most expedient, and most beneficial actions the government can take to improve system capacity across Canada. To see this submission in full, visit: https://physiotherapy.ca/written-submission-for-the-standing-committee-on-finances-pre-budget-consultation/
Primary care void
The submission points out that more than 26,000 physiotherapists in Canada hold a licence to practise. Despite the fact that most (93 per cent) of older Canadians would rather be supported at home than move into long-term care settings, few publicly funded family health teams currently include physiotherapists as members. Turning this situation around would need to be backed politically and funded appropriately, the CPA said.
'We know we can do more to support patients and our fellow primary care providers in delivering high-quality care across the health system spectrum, whether at home, in a community or primary care clinic, in a treatment facility, or in the emergency room,' the letter noted.
We know we can do more to support patients and our fellow primary care providers in delivering high-quality care across the health system spectrum, whether at home, in a community or primary care clinic, in a treatment facility, or in the emergency room
Physiotherapists help to improve people's quality of life, the letter continued. ‘Providing direct access to physiotherapists at the primary care level, including by enhancing access to in-home physiotherapy, prevents and delays long-term care placement, and allows Canadians to live longer in their homes and communities, and to continue to be active participants in the economy.
‘It also helps improve quality of life, lower total medical costs, and reduce hospitalisation and hospital lengths of stay for those living with chronic pain.’
The CPA’s letter painted a stark picture in describing the issues facing Canada’s health care system at present – but suggested that physiotherapy could potentially play a key role in providing solutions.
‘By providing a more significant role for physiotherapy in addressing some of the most urgent challenges facing our health care system, such as long Covid, non-pharmacological pain management, and care for older adults, Canada can begin to relieve the unbelievable stress and toll on other primary care providers who continue to battle the pandemic on the front lines.'
Student numbers too low
The CPA is also calling for ‘more attention' to devoted to how to 'entice' new physiotherapy entrants into the health system. ‘That begins with providing support for the extensive education and training physiotherapy students undertake to be professionally certified,’ it notes.
To see the CPA’s letter in full, visit: https://physiotherapy.ca/advocacy/advocacy-updates/recent-advocacy/open-letter-to-the-prime-minister/Author: Ian A McMillan