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Letter: Nurse practitioner urges HSN to find savings elsewhere

Cuts to breast health program will be detrimental to basic patient care
Nurse practitioner Marilyn Butcher is urging HSN leadership to go back to their books and trim their budget in areas that will not be detrimental to patient care. (File)

It is with disbelief that I read of HSN’s proposed cuts to the breast health program, a program that cuts wait times for diagnosis and treatment for men and women with breast cancer in Northeastern Ontario. 

HSN is currently asking for input to their 2019–2024 Strategic Plan. Their first goal is to “be more proactive in making the health-care system work for you and your family.” 

It is pretty clear there is a significant disconnect between this strategic goal and their current proposed action. By sending women and men into the chaos of a long waiting list for a specialist appointment in Sudbury, they are making the health-care experience far more daunting and lengthy than it needs to be. 

As a nurse practitioner and a patient in Sudbury, I can personally attest to waiting lists of months and years for specialist appointments.

HSN also aspires to “strengthen their role as Northern Ontario’s largest academic health sciences centre. You deserve to be cared for by a health care team at the forefront of knowledge and innovation.” 

I am fairly certain that research has already showed that an organized breast health program, with speedy links to diagnostic imaging, biopsy and treatment will reduce morbidity and mortality for breast cancer. I am concerned that HSN is refocusing its priorities on a research agenda rather than the basic premise of patient care. 

HSN aspires to “improve the health of northerners.” It is pretty clear that the prolonged wait time for diagnosis and treatment that will follow the dismantling of this program will lead to poorer outcomes for Northern Ontario that will no doubt be described in the next health status report.

HSN also aspires to increase their investment in professional development for staff from 0.4 per cent to one per cent of staff payroll. As a nurse practitioner, I know that ongoing professional development is critical for ensuring staff is up to date with the latest, however, not to the detriment of basic patient care.

I call on HSN leadership to go back to the books and trim the budget in areas that will not have such a detriment to patient care.

Marilyn Butcher NP – PHC