RENFREW, ON, Feb. 19, 2014 /CNW/ - The recent announcement that the Renfrew hospital plans to cut birthing and obstetrics, highlights the cynicism and deception in the province's Closer to Home healthcare strategy, says Michael Hurley, president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions/CUPE.
Downsizing hospitals, cutting beds and shedding services is the basis for health care delivery reforms supported by all 3 major Ontario political parties. Small rural hospitals are particularly threatened. In theory, services closer to home are supposed to replace services cut. In the case of Renfrew, this cut will mean travel to Ottawa, a community 94 km away, possible only by car or by Greyhound.
The Renfrew Victoria Hospital plans to close its obstetrics unit in June. The closure comes following significant bed, surgery, procedure and therapy cuts at neighbouring hospitals in Arnprior and Perth and Smiths Falls. Ottawa too will see thousands of procedures moved from the Ottawa Hospital and privatized to private clinics, some of them for-profit.
"Short of the closure of 5 hospitals in Niagara, eastern Ontario is seeing the harshest cuts to hospital services anywhere in the province," says Hurley. Cutting obstetrics is appalling, Hurley says. "It is a reasonable expectation in a developed country, that a community like Renfrew will offer services like obstetrics. Ontario has the fewest hospital beds to population of any province in Canada or country in the OECD. The efficiency of the Ontario hospital system is unparalleled. Health planners who are erasing a woman's right to give birth in her community should strongly reconsider."
CUPE has asked on the Ontario Healthcare Coalition for help in responding to the cuts in obstetrics in Renfrew. A community meeting will be organized in the near future.
SOURCE: Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (CUPE)
For further information: Michael Hurley, President, Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU), 416-884-0770