[Opinion] Health managers, scapegoats?

In the conflict raging at the Maisonneuve-Rosemont hospital, it seems that the wound has once again been bandaged with a band-aid and the manager simply beaten up as a settlement.

It is to be believed that the challenges facing the health and social services network — the shortage of manpower, the compartmentalization of professional orders, the negative image projected by the media, the lack of cooperation unions, the countless employees on sick leave and the omnipresent political component, to name a few, rest mainly on the backs of its managers.

In any case, this is the message that was sent loud and clear. And that is unfortunately the one that health managers received.

They don’t have a favorable popular rating, and that comes in handy for many. Knowing their reality is however important. They are present and take an interest in the care and services offered to the population. They are engaged, collaborative and dedicated to their organization. They are sensitive to the evolution of their teams. They work in the shadows so that everything runs smoothly. But they are not the department of miracles.

The attractiveness of the health manager role has diminished considerably — and dangerously — over time. Why ? Because working conditions are crumbling more and more, especially in the last decade. Because we are asking managers to do more and more with less. Because we like to beat the sugar on their backs. Because the recognition towards them is more than laconic.

All this contributes to maintaining the unhealthy climate that reigns in the network.

Political will and collective questioning

When a problem arises, we always repeat the same gestures hoping for different results. We apply superficial solutions without ever seriously thinking about ways to do otherwise. We omit to debate the fundamental questions that Quebec society is entitled to ask itself in the face of the repetition of crises in the network.

However, to do otherwise implies a political will — in particular to truly decentralize decision-making powers and to increase the influence of organizations (and of those who manage them) in the system — and a real desire for collaboration on the part of all the parts. It is also important to improve the working conditions of health personnel, including those of managers, in order to attract the next generation and keep our human resources healthy. The network is suffering greatly, and a fresh look is needed to avoid running into a wall. It’s urgent.

As citizens, taxpayers and users of the healthcare system, we must ask ourselves if we still have the means to achieve our ambitions. Should we revise the offer of our socio-sanitary organizations? Are we ready to modify or abandon certain care and services that do not fit with our current means? How else can we do so that the population receives quality care? How to preserve the public health system, and what compromises are necessary for its sustainability?

Thus, I suggest that we are still a long way from what is necessary to resolve the crisis at the Maisonneuve-Rosemont hospital.

Becoming aware of the overall situation is the first step towards concrete actions and lasting solutions. Otherwise, we are only at the dawn of a long series of scapegoating “managerial shifts”.

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