Thanks for the rhetoric

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 43, No. 2, March 2001, Pages 60-64 Editorials

Well, so much for the "we’re going to include all stakeholders in health decision making" and "we see the value of the opinions of frontline health-care workers in health-care planning" rhetoric of the current government.

Recently, the position of physician appointee to one of the largest regional health boards in BC came open and the region’s doctors were invited to nominate a candidate. The incumbent physician appointee was the choice of the board, not the choice of the region’s doctors, and has been viewed as a political appointment. So the solicitation was viewed as an olive branch by this government-appointed board.

After a short discussion of the short-list of preferred candidates, the unanimous nomination of the region’s doctors’ groups was the person with the most experience politically. This individual has many years’ experience in association politics, has been the president of both the BCMA and the CMA, and has memberships in countless provincial and federal committees dedicated to health care.

The regional health board declined to accept the nomination, however, stating that the nominee was unacceptable because he was on record as being in favor of the partial privatization of medical care. This message was delivered through unofficial channels, not to the nominee, so I suppose the board executives were trying to gauge the political heat the refusal would create.

Interestingly, at the same time the refusal was orally delivered, in the next breath the official messenger of the board stated that there was a list of six other doctors who were acceptable to the board. The region and the BCMA reacted very quickly, and, in order to give this charade a sense of democratic process, the region announced there would now be interviews for the position.

The physician’s nominee was subsequently interviewed by several board members and was told he would be notified of their decision. The other nominees were board generated, one being the incumbent, so it didn’t take a rocket surgeon[1] to figure out whose name likely wouldn’t be going to Victoria. As I write this there have been a few other developments, and by the time this is printed the direction of the story may have changed. Nevertheless, it shows that the mind-set of this government and its minions is unchanged. They were prepared to appoint someone politically aligned rather than have to deal with an effective voice of the doctors.

In the next few months they will claim to be a much warmer, sweeter, open group of legislators who deserve to be re-elected. However, the behavior and decisions by this government’s ideologically driven appointees is proof, I believe, of their on-going, uncompromising love affair with political obfuscation and the easy subordination of basic democratic principals.

You will be receiving political preparedness material from the BCMA in the near future (depending on the timing of the provincial election), and I encourage you to get involved. It is vitally important that whatever government is in power knows which concepts, philosophies, and principles are considered to be of prime importance to the medical profession. The concept that every regional health board have a doctor-nominated representative has to be close to the top of the list.


James A. Wilson, MD. Thanks for the rhetoric. BCMJ, Vol. 43, No. 2, March, 2001, Page(s) 60-64 - Editorials.

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