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Privatization fosters black market, Quebec MD says

Controversy erupts in province over claims surgeons are slipped thousands to move patients up the list.

Privatization fosters black market, Quebec MD saysThe Montreal Gazette reports that offering envelopes stuffed with thousands of dollars to surgeons has become a way to speed treatment in public hospitals.

"One high-ranking physician who works with doctors at several Montreal hospitals told The Gazette that obstetricians often accept cash offered by expectant parents to ensure their doctor attends the delivery, rather than having to depend on whichever doctor is on call," it reported on December 2.

Since then, a controversy has mushroomed in the province, with the Quebec College of Physicians indignantly condemning such practices and provincial health minister Yves Bolduc saying he had never heard of patients bribing doctors for fast-track service. "But in the medical community, some wondered how the minister, a physician himself, couldn't have known what they describe as an open secret," reported Lysiane Gagnon in The Globe and Mail.

The black market for care is encouraged by the privatization of services, primary care physician Paul Saba told The Gazette. "Doctors feel underpaid and the demand for medical services in the public system outstrips supply," he said.

"People have offered me money and I've refused it," Saba said. "Today... one patient offered me cash. People are desperate for services and they want to move things along."

Posted: December 07, 2010

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