Health Coalition releases new report: Damning evidence from Ontario's private for-profit clinics

    TORONTO, Oct. 1 /CNW Telbec/ - "First, do no harm." That is the warning
issued by the Ontario Health Coalition in light of John Tory's campaign to
open the gates to U.S.-style for-profit hospitals and clinics.
    The coalition released a report today, "First Do No Harm: the Evidence
from Ontario's Experience with For-Profit Diagnostic and Hospital Clinics",
containing evidence of higher costs, worsening staff shortages and closures of
local health services caused by for-profit clinics of the exact model proposed
by John Tory.
    "Many physicians are deeply concerned about the negative impact of these
for-profit hospitals and clinics on our patients. For-profit clinics skim
healthier patients out of hospitals, leaving the public system to care for
more complex patients with less money. In addition, the linking of insured to
uninsured services in for-profit clinics presents barriers for Ontarians who
cannot - and should not - pay for essential health care services," said
Dr. Danielle Martin, chair of Canadian Doctors for Medicare.
    "For-profit ownership has nothing to do with wait times. To reduce wait
times we need to focus urgent attention on increasing the number of nurses,
doctors and health professionals and improving the organization of care. An
expansion of private for-profit clinics will worsen shortages and prevent
sound organization of care; it will shunt scarce resources over to the private
sector instead," said Doris Grinspun, Executive Director of the Registered
Nurses' Association of Ontario.
    "In fact, the for-profit MRI-CT clinics introduced by the Eves government
poached radiation technologists, actually worsening staff shortages in nearby
public hospitals. Rather than increasing capacity, they forced the public
hospitals to cut back on their MRI hours while the private clinics were
laughing all the way to the bank," remarked Patty Rout, a technologist and
vice president of OPSEU.
    "Tory's proposal would open the floodgates to U.S.-style for-profit
privatization of all our hospital services, including the doctors and nurses.
While John Tory's proposal may benefit the for-profit health lobby, it does
not help patients," concluded Natalie Mehra, director of the Ontario Health
Coalition. "Most Ontarians believe it is wrong to make profit from a cancer
patient. This study shows that for-profit hospitals are not only an affront to
our values, but are also a danger to our public health system."

    Key Findings:

    1. For-profit ownership has no relation to wait times. In fact, recent
cuts to for-profit labs across the province have resulted in long line-ups for
blood tests. The Harris/Eves for-profit MRI- CT clinics reduced capacity in
the public hospital system.
    2. There are not enough health professionals to sustain a private tier of
for-profit clinics. The for-profit MRI/CT clinics have worsened staff
shortages in local hospitals leading to cuts in the non-profit hospitals.
Since they are not set up for emergencies or complex patients, they take the
lighter cases and leave behind the heavy care with less staff.
    3. The for-profits favour urban centres where there is a bigger "market"
from which they can make money. Diagnosticare x-ray clinics were closed down
in small towns across Ontario leaving patients to travel further for services
because the company found 15% profit rates not high enough.
    4. The for-profit clinics lack accountability. They are rife with secret
contracts, even though taxpayers are funding them. The provincial auditor
found the for-profit cancer treatment centre at Sunnybrook cost more than
public cancer centres with taxpayers footing the bill. After receiving
millions in provincial and municipal grants funded by taxpayers, Diagnosticare
shut down local services to the detriment of patients.

    The full report is available at

For further information:

For further information: Ontario Health Coalition, (416) 230-6402; Patty
Rout, (416) 443-8888 ext. 8383; Dr. Danielle Martin, (416) 779-8841 (available
1 - 5 pm only); Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario, (416) 599-1925

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