Open Letter to Nadia Surani, Director, Primary Health Care Branch of MOH

Dear Ms. Surani,

On November 21, 2022 you wrote a letter to primary care organizations requesting that they offer seven day a week availability. For those who may not have seen this letter – I’ve attached a copy for upload here.

The response to your memo has been probably not what you expected. You’ve got one Past President of the Ontario Medical Association calling it dumb. Mind you, that guy always was a bit of a boorish loudmouth. But you’ve got another, much more eloquent past President of the Ontario Medical Association also calling you out on this:

You can’t even say you didn’t know the consequences of your letter, because you’ve got the really smart Dr. Premji warning you against blaming family docs FOUR DAYS before sending your letter:

There’s a lot more upset physicians (and other health care professionals) on social media and elsewhere, but you get my drift. This letter was, to put it far too mildly, not well received. In light of all this, might I humbly suggest that I re-write your letter for you.

From: Nadia Surani, Director, Primary Health Care Branch

To: Family Health Teams, Nurse Practitioner Led Clinics, Indigenous Primary Health Care Organizations

Re: Important Ministry Request

First and foremost, on behalf of the Ministry, I want to thank each and every one of our primary care providers for working tirelessly through the pandemic. I know that there are not enough of you to take care of all the health care needs of Ontario’s residents. Despite that, you continue to do your best and have been working at 110% capacity for longer than seems humanly possible. Your efforts have not gone un noticed and are truly appreciated.

Unfortunately, we are now experiencing a difficult and complex fall season, full of the respiratory illnesses that many of you had predicted. The combination of earlier than expected Influenza A, returning RSV infections and ongoing Covid-19 is pressuring our healthcare system like never before. The paediatric sector is particularly hard hit and sadly, we are expecting high volume pressures across our health system throughout the winter months.

As a result of the above I would like to offer you what support I can to help the residents of Ontario get care during these challenging times. You are all on the front lines, and you see the day to day challenges of providing care first hand. You see the inefficiencies and you see where things can be made better. Many of you may have ideas as to how better manage the flow of patients and many of you have some unique solutions that will help us cope, despite the shortage of health care workers.

Knowing there are limited resources, I obviously can’t promise that we can implement everything suggested. But I want you to know that every reasonable suggestion that will increase the ability of your organization to see patients and alleviate pressure on the health care system as a whole will be considered. If you feel that there will be extraordinary costs associated your suggestions, please contact your ministry representative.

Thank you once again for your ongoing commitment and dedication in the fight against the pandemic and other urgent system pressures. I truly appreciate it and I will do my best to support any innovative solutions you may have.

Please connect with your assigned ministry contact with any suggestions you have for enhancing your organization or any other questions.

Nadia Surani, Director, Primary Care Branch, Ministry of Health

There you have it. I hope that was helpful.

Sincerely,

Your humble servant.

Author: justanoldcountrydoctor

Practicing rural family medicine since 1992. I still have active privileges at the Collingwood Hospital. One Time President of the Ontario Medical Association.

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