The OMA in crisis; a sad day for the profession
Yesterday the OMA executive resigned.
In my personal view, this is a sad day for the profession and one that leaves physicians in a fractured and disadvantageous position. It may well be true that it is the only way that we can move forward at this point. But that notwithstanding, we should never have been here in the first place.
The OMA’s relationship with the government is in terrible shape. The anti-government rhetoric emanating on a daily basis from OMA communications cannot be healthy. At some point, sooner than later, the inexorable goal of both parties must be that we get back to the table.
Groups such as the Concerned Ontario Doctors and the Coalition of Ontario Doctors have been effective in their advocacy and have expressed major concern in the OMA leadership. Ultimately, the leaders have resigned. While it may be true that there is a lot to have been critical about with respect to the successes (or lack thereof) of the OMA in recent years, what has transpired cannot be good for the profession.
The Coalition of Ontario Doctors in their communications have indicated that their principal motivation is with respect to patient care: “this is really a fight about creating and funding a fair and stable system that let’s us provide better healthcare, the kind of healthcare you deserve.”1
I’m not so sure. It’s my observation that their movement is predicated on two essential perspectives. The first is that Ontario doctors have been hard done by financially, and that that needs to be reconciled. The second is a more elusive construct, but akin to the Trump/Brexit movements and other anti-establishment actions of the day.
It is certainly understandable how physician groups have become increasingly frustrated with government over the last few years. Unilateral decision-making, especially negative decisions that seem to be unfairly targeted at physicians, is problematic. But there will be only one vehicle in resolving this issue. And that vehicle is getting back to the table. This is why I personally have written in support of the TPSA (tentative physician services agreement) and was so disappointed to see it defeated this past summer.
One can only hope that sane minds will prevail and positive steps will be taken to rebuild the OMA. This will not be easy given the antics of the last year, however, my own view is that we need to search for some specific qualities in the next leadership group at the OMA. First and foremost, this includes a strong desire to find any means to get back to the table. Second, we must find leadership who would be adamantly opposed to any kind of job action. Third, we need reasoned leadership that can take a balanced perspective with respect to the issue of physician compensation, advocating appropriately for the profession, but working with government in acknowledgement of the fiscal reality that they are faced with. It really doesn’t matter why the government is in such bad financial shape, the fact is they are. Negotiations for the medical profession will have to take that as a given.
Yesterday was not a good day. I’m confident that if leadership emanates from groups that hold extreme views, at this juncture in time, the medical profession will take a great step backwards.
We absolutely must proceed with calm, moderate views, reason and most of all with a fanatical focus on what’s best for the patient as opposed to a preoccupation with the financial interests of physicians.
Please share your thoughts by commenting on the blog, or better yet, drop by the Macklem House…my door is always open.