4/29/11

Monty Python comes to hospital privatization

I kid you not -- this is a genuine B.C. news report on privatizing hospital support services. 

The Vancouver Island Health Authority tried to dump its housekeeping contractor last month, but Compass Group Canada hung on to its $50-million, five-year deal with the health authority after buying Marquise Group, the company chosen to take over cleaning at several Island facilities.

VIHA turfed its agreement with Compass because of the company's poor service. Under its watch, hospitals had regular infection outbreaks, failed housekeeping audits and damaging WorkSafe B.C. Inspections.

Health authority officials say they did not know about the purchase when they selected Marquise to take over. ...

"It's always a bit disconcerting when you set a contract with one company and another company buys them," said Joe Murphy, vice-president of operations.

That frustration grows when the buyer is the company VIHA has tried to get away from after six years.

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital is also on the list of for possible service provider changes. A deadly 11-month outbreak of Clostridium difficile at NRGH in 2008 was largely blamed on inadequate housekeeping, according to documents obtained by the Nanaimo Daily News.

Within days of obtaining this information, the health authority announced it was looking to replace Compass and its subsidiaries.

NDP leader Adrian Hix says the deal would sound more like a Monty Python skit if it weren't so serious.   The full report from the Nanaimo Daily News can be found by clicking here

The good news: The Hospital Employees Union reports that it has received an assurance from Compass that they will continue to honour the current collective agreement it signed with the union.  Privatized, or not, the workers need a union contract and the security that comes with it.  

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