Community hospitals threatened by secretive attempt to expand private surgical clinics
TORONTO, Sept. 23, 2013 /CNW/ - Ontario's provincial government is making a substantive change to how some surgeries, procedures and other ambulatory health services now available through public hospitals will be provided in the future. There is even a rapidly approaching deadline of October 11, 2013 for comments from the public on this significant change to health service delivery that would expand Ontario's reliance on private clinics and threaten the viability of community hospitals.
"Yet few Ontarians are even aware that this is happening" says Michael Hurley president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU) in calling for an open province-wide consultation on the regulatory changes. "It appears that the province is purposely doing very little to ensure the public is aware of the regulatory changes that will expand the use of private clinics to deliver publicly-funded health services. In fact the consultation process is so low-key and under the radar that it seems like the province really doesn't want public scrutiny."
The changes to health service delivery that include the expansion of privatized primary care are so significant, says Hurley, that the little-known October deadline for comments should be scrapped in order to give "people all over Ontario from Thunder Bay to Windsor and Cornwall a chance to give meaningful input to the provincial government through well - publicized public hearings."
Although the deadline for public comments to the regulatory changes is looming, the province has outright refused to make public the content of the wording of the regulatory changes. In a muted and little noticed announcement, mid-summer, the health ministry said that regulatory changes (that do not require the approval of the Ontario Legislature) would be made to the Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) Act and to the Independent Health Facilities Act. The province does acknowledge that these changes would allow surgeries, procedures and other services to be shifted from community hospitals to private clinics.
"The potential impact of moving services and the funding out of the local hospital in communities like Perth and Smiths Falls Niagara, Quinte and Uxbridge, where the public hospital has been threatened with closure before, could be devastating. This back door change, combined with the government's move to centralize hospital services, threatens the long-term viability of community hospitals across the province. The province has an obligation to hear from people in communities across the province before moving ahead with taking more surgeries and services out of local hospitals," says Hurley.
SOURCE Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (CUPE)For further information:
Michael Hurley, President, Ontario Council of Hospital Unions/CUPE 416-884-0770
Stella Yeadon, Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Communications 416-559-9300