Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut October 25, 2012 - 1:24 pm

Nunavut health complaint review set back until December

“I’m hoping that we will roll it out in the new year”

DAVID MURPHY

Nunavummiut have to jump through many hoops to make complaints about health services in and out of the territory — and that needs to be changed, Amittuq MLA Louis Tapardjuk said Oct. 24.

Speaking in the Nunavut legislature, Tapardjuk questioned whether a Government of Nunavut review of a patient complaint process has been completed.

It’s still in the works, said health minister Keith Peterson.

“Our target completion date is December and I’m hoping that we will roll it out in the new year,” Peterson said.

Peterson did not say why the review is later than first promised, saying only his department is “working very hard to resolve this once and for all.”

Peterson said his department is also looking at the issue of complaints across Nunavut and in the South about medical travel and health centres in addition to a review of client travel policy and the client escort policy.

A review of the system had been requested this past March.

That’s when a proposed review of the complaint procedures went to a vote — then passed, after the chair of the committee of the whole, Johnny Ningeongan cast the deciding vote to break a tie.

Peterson had been against the motion, complaining about being overloaded with work in his department.

Peterson said Oct. 24 that complaints about health services like the patient-client travel policy have been among the most “hotly debated” topics in the assembly since the creation of Nunavut.

“There’s no magic pill where I’m going to reverse everything, all the problems, with the policies overnight,” Peterson said. “I’m sure it’s not going to solve all the complaints, but you can’t keep everybody happy.”

However, people shouldn’t have to make their complaints to ministers, he said. These should be resolved within hospitals and health centres.

“We want to help the MLAs out as well, because I know you folks receive a lot of emails, and visits from constituents about concerns. I know you forward their concerns to me and I have to go back down to the department. It’s a very long, convoluted process. It shouldn’t be like that,” he said.

Once a system is in place, the number of complaints will decrease, he said.

“A lot of people don’t feel that their concerns are being taken seriously. There’s no follow-up. I think when there is follow up, a lot of people will indicate that they are satisfied and just want someone to hear their concerns,” Peterson said.

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