Funding cuts, leadership indecision prompting Winnipeg doctor to quit
A Winnipeg doctor is calling it quits.
Dr. Sandor Demeter, a radiology specialist at Health Sciences Centre, is leaving his job because he says fiscal austerity and indecision by leadership are causing delays for cancer patients.
“My ability to come to work and feel like I want to come to work is not there anymore,” said Demeter.
Demeter has been in nuclear medicine at HSC since 2002. He was a lead in establishing the PET scanner program. The machine is used to assess people following a cancer diagnoses.
He said he is quitting now because of what he calls in a blog post: a “dysfunctional bureaucratic quagmire.”
“Morale is really in the dumps, especially in relation to our frontline staff,” said Demeter.
He said the program has been stagnant for a decade, but during the PC government’s health care overhaul over the last four years, key vacancies are not being filled, funding is eroding, and Shared Health is dragging its heels on critical decisions.
“They sort of cut the funding, you can see where the cracks are appearing, I call it erosion management linked to crisis management,” said Demeter.
Demeter said this has all lead to unacceptable wait times for patients.
“Patients who have a new diagnosis of cancer shouldn’t have to wait up to four weeks for their first scan. Whether they should get chemo, radiation therapy, or surgery,” said Demeter.
In a statement to CTV News, Shared Health said the health care transformation is a multi-year plan to address decades old challenges, and said delays in consolidating nuclear medicine are disappointing.
“While we acknowledge that the road toward a better health system has not always been smooth, we also note that many of the concerns expressed by Dr. Demeter are long-standing issues that existed prior to the creation of Shared Health and have been exacerbated by a nearly two-year long pandemic.”
Health Minister Audrey Gordon said a second PET machine is being added.
“We’ll have the new PET machine up and running within a very short time frame very early next year,” said Gordon.
Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont said Demeter isn’t the first specialist in Manitoba to go, and worries he won’t be the last.
“Fundamentally, the problem is that this government hasn’t been able to get it’s act together and it doesn’t treat people with enough respect to want to keep working,” said Lamont.
Demeter said he is not retiring, simply leaving his day job.
He saic he is going to continue another practice at the Grace and Victoria hospitals, plus a current teaching job at the University of Manitoba.