Health minister announces move to private clinics despite evidence showing higher death rates, higher costs for the public

TORONTO, Dec. 18, 2013 /CNW/ - The announcement by Ontario's health minister of a " a major shift in the provision of health services, surgeries and procedures from accredited and regulated public hospitals to private clinics is alarming," said Ontario Council of Hospital Unions/CUPE (OCHU) president Michael Hurley. " In Ontario, quality control problems and illegal user fees have haunted the private clinics and the Minister has been a hands-off manager, leaving the public at risk, vulnerable and exploited.

"The government's plan is to open a market in clinical health care. The private clinics will process as many colonoscopy, endoscopy, dialysis and other procedures as humanly possible. These clinics will treat patients with the simplest medical conditions. The public hospitals will be left with patients with complex conditions. Always in private delivery of healthcare, be it in the U.K. or the U.S.A., the private sector is interested in speed and volume and profit. This means that the public sector is left with the complex cases without any of the financial offset of the simpler ones. Ultimately hospitals fail financially. " Hurley said.

In Ontario private clinics are self-policing, unlike hospitals, which are accredited and regulated. Studies show higher death rates at private clinics. And in the United Kingdom, the costs of the private clinics have been much higher than originally forecast.

"The impacts of the consolidation of these procedures in private hands will be: the gradual closure of smaller community hospitals, higher costs, user fees and higher death rates," said Hurley. " " Hospitals are the cornerstone of the Medicare system in Canada and this policy weakens them substantially. A similar policy has plunged many hospitals in Great Britain into bankruptcy. Hospital staff will campaign energetically to have the Ontario Liberals reconsider this policy in the public interest", said 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

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