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New health rules in Montreal have doctors, patients worried

Watch: MUHC speaks out on cancer care changes

MONTREAL — A new plan by the province has some in the Montreal medical community up in arms.

“When your health is at stake, you don’t need bureaucracy,” said one patient who was receiving radiation treatment at the Montreal General Hospital on Wednesday.

On April 1, rules that would reallocate the budgets of several Montreal-based radiation centres to regional hospitals are expected to come in to place.

While patients would technically still be free to choose the hospital where they would prefer to be treated, some in the medical community fear that by cutting away at the budget, the province would effectively force the hand of patients needing radiation treatment.

Watch: Off-island cancer care

“The budgets that hospitals receive to take care of patients, we’re being told, are going to be based on volumes predicted on the map,” said Dr. Armen Aprikian, the McGill University Health Centre’s chief of oncology.

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Aprikian is concerned that this would decimate the number of radiation patients who use the MUHC’s services by between 20-25 per cent.

Some patients, like the one who spoke with Global News, said the changes could fall along linguistic lines.

But Dr. Bassam Abdulkarim, another oncologist with the MUHC, has a larger concern.

He is worried that the province’s budgetary decision could hurt care for patients who have already dealt with cancer, especially given the importance of continuity in health care.

“If a tumor comes back, the patient may ask themselves: “Can I access my team?”

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