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London takes sixth in Canada
By Chris Lackner
Members of the London medical community have dismissed the importance of Maclean's magazine's annual health report.
"It's interesting information, but you have to question the reliability of any kind of public report," said Carol Herbert, the dean of medicine and dentistry at Western.
The magazine's annual health report ranks the quality of health care in 50 Canadian communities with a population of 100,000 or greater, said Robert Marshall, Maclean's assistant managing editor.
He added the communities were broken down into three areas; communities with medical schools, other major communities and rural communities.
Maclean's took the compiled data and ranked thirteen indicators from life expectancy to physicians per capita, said Marshall explaining London ranked sixth in communities with medical schools and 10th overall across the nation.
Jennifer Zelmor, director of health reports and analysis for the Canadian Institute for Health Information, explained her organization compiled the data Maclean's used in its ranking.
"We worked with hospitals, Ministries and academics to determine the factors in our examination of health care. We covered a broad range and each health category gives us a different perspective on where communities can improve," Zelmore said.
"The problem is not in the data they collected, but in the conclusions they drew," Herbert explained. "The information is what it is. These kind of publications tend to extend beyond the actual level of significance."
Mike Sauer, communication co-ordinator for the London Health Sciences Centre, said the medical centre does not rely on the Maclean's health report to give a reflection of health services in London.
"We don't deny its validity, but we have other ways of judging our own performance. This report is just popular press and we acknowledge it for what it is."
Still, Sauer said the latest Maclean's health ranking was an improvement on the previous edition. "I think the research is much more thorough and less subjective," he admitted.
Marshall said the community of North-West Vancouver received the best overall score, while Edmonton, finishing fourth, received the highest rating for a community with a medical school.
"I'd like to stress that the top communities are bunched very close together in ratings. There is very little discrepancy between highest and lowest. The rankings exaggerate the differences," he explained.
Zelmor said the information collected on health care can be used to pool resources across communities. "If there is a region where people are performing admirably in a certain medical area then colleagues can call them up for guidance. We have great facilities and experts in Canada but we need to learn to work together."
Marshall also said there are other factors to consider in the report. "The majority of statistics we offer have to do with the availability of services and may not accurately address the quality."