HAMILTON, ON, Jan. 28, 2014 /CNW/ - Ontario's 14 Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) must stop cutting the quality and safety of health care and sending public services to for-profit companies, said the President of the Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) today.
Speaking to the Standing Committee on Social Justice, Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN, spoke of the urgent need for LHINs to improve, not erode, public health care in the province.
"When LHINs were created, the objective was to create a comprehensive system of care driven by the needs of the community and put patient need and access at the centre," Haslam-Stroud said. "We need to get this back on track. Our patients cannot tolerate any further cuts to public health care services that have been handed to the private sector. We need to ensure the LHINs are protecting the delivery of high-quality care to patients and providing leadership to ensure safeguards are in place to improve the practice conditions for nurses."
Initially, Haslam-Stroud told the committee, LHINs showed promise that patients mattered in health care integration decisions. However, integration decisions have failed to take into account the needs of patients to access comprehensive services.
"In genuine health integration, transparent decisions are made in the public interest," said Haslam-Stroud.
"LHINs can refocus through their accountability agreements with the Ministry of Health and health care providers. To do so requires that the creation of conditions of care that can best ensure quality patient care."
She noted that accountability agreements currently do not contain any requirements for improving health and safety, ensuring safe staffing levels, human resource plans or quality care.
Also among ONA's recommendations for LHINs is a halt to the privatization of public health care services. LHINs' decisions have resulted in a number of formerly publicly provided health care services being transferred to for-profit providers. Improvements in access, consistency and transparency of LHIN information is also absolutely critical for public engagement, monitoring of and involvement in local decisions about health care services, Haslam-Stroud said.
Finally, Haslam-Stroud said that "in addition to enforcing a venue for front-line RNs to provide input on decisions, as is required under current legislation, a quality health care system must ensure that decisions are made through the filter of safe, quality patient care. The Standing Committee has the opportunity to refocus the LHINs on what matters most to Ontarians – the delivery of quality patient care, and our patients deserve no less."
ONA is the union representing 60,000 registered nurses and allied health professionals, as well as more than 14,000 nursing student affiliates providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.
SOURCE: Ontario Nurses' Association