Graveyards full of dead patients the result of province's decade-long
experiment with bed closures
TORONTO, Feb. 27, 2013 /CNW/ - Ontario's pioneering experiment to change
health care delivery - that includes the closing of 18,500 beds - is
not "ok" and not a health policy that's in the best interest of patient
safety because there aren't enough services in the home and community
care sector to provide the extensive medical support many patients
need, says Michael Hurley the president of the Ontario Council of
Hospital Unions (OCHU).
Since the mid-90s 18,500 hospital beds have been cut in Ontario.
Ontario's hospital bed occupancy rate stands at 97.9 per cent - the
highest among industrialized countries.
"This government's fixation with cutting hospital beds and services is
disproportionately affecting the elderly. Thousands of acutely ill
seniors are pushed out hospital prematurely every year into a home and
community care system where services simply don't exist. Surgeries are
cancelled, emergency rooms overflow, community residents are prevented
from accessing long term care, and precious ambulance resources are
lost waiting to discharge patients to overflowing hospitals, sometimes
leaving zero ambulances available to respond to 911 calls. It is
disingenuous of the minister to suggest that there is enough care
available in the community to adequately address the care needs of the
thousands of patients she wants to push out of hospitals," says Hurley.
Hospital over capacity or overcrowding is linked to outbreaks of
hospital-acquired infections and a variety of medical errors. In
Ontario approximately 5,000 people die each year as a result of
hospital associated infections. Between a third and a half of these
deaths are preventable. Despite other efforts, hospital acquired
infection rates have not declined in Ontario. In countries like the
Netherlands and the United Kingdom where hospital bed occupancy is 65
and 85 per cent respectively the rate of hospital acquired infections
is lower than in Ontario.
"We should be doing the same, lowering bed occupancy, not closing more
beds. There are graveyards full of patients, who are dying preventable
deaths in Ontario because of the shift in health policy to close beds,"
Based on the health care platforms of the main Ontario political
parties, all three parties endorsed decreased funding for acute care
hospitals. Factoring in the increasing cost pressure from aging,
population growth, and inflation, the province's nominal increase in
health care funding is a long way off the actual increased costs, costs
that Ontario's auditor pegs at 6-7 per cent per year.
"This means more bed and service cuts no matter who wins the next
election," says Hurley. "Despite the rhetoric of the health minister
these aren't simply bed cuts, they are cuts to patient care, care that
is not being offset by a shift in services to the community or other
institutions like non-profit nursing homes," says Hurley.
In the face the health minister's uncharacteristically candid
declaration to media yesterday, that cutting hospital beds is "ok",
hospital staff who are members of CUPE will now consider more
aggressive public campaigns to reverse the cuts, Hurley says. In the
late spring OCHU will be releasing the findings of hotline campaign
done in conjunction with the Ontario Association of Speech Language
Pathologists and Audiologists (OSLA) which focused on elderly and
vulnerable patients being pushed out of hospital.
SOURCE: Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (CUPE)
For further information:
Michael Hurley, President, Ontario Council of Hospital Unions/CUPE 416-884-0770
Stella Yeadon, CUPE Communications 416-559-9300