Cancer experts are calling on the provincial government to reverse its policy to send off-island cancer patients back to regional hospitals to receive the treatment they need.
The Jewish General Hospital has one of the leading cancer centres in Quebec, offering treatment unavailable anywhere else. But in a letter sent out at the end of January, management reminded doctors to send off-island patients back to hospitals closer to home, because of a provincial government policy that says Montreal hospitals cannot treat off-island patients.
“Resources should follow the patients, not the reverse,” Barry Stein, the President of the Colorectal Cancer Association, who issued a statement calling on the government to reverse the policy, said. “It’s a fundamental right for patients to be served by the physician who can best treat their cancer and when it comes to cancer treatment, in many cases it’s a question of life or death.”
Doctors at the Jewish General have spoken out about the policy saying it undermines the complexity of cancer treatment.
“As a doctor our medical ethics say we have to treat a patients regardless, this is our mandate, we should look at what is in the best interest for the patients,” Dr Te Vuong, head of radiation oncology at the Jewish General said. “We are highly specialised in the treatment of cancer, we are leading internationally so if I think that a patient will benefit from my treatment it’s very hard for me to refuse them based on the area code.”