Skip to main content

Winnowing down hospital services

The Ontario Health Coalition has raised concerns about a Niagara Health System plan to close  beds at the Welland Hospital.  The beds are housed in a wing of the Welland hospital that includes an “extended care unit” and a “long-term care unit”.  The hospital plans to sell off the license to operate these beds, possibly to a for-profit company.

Niagara health care activist Sue Salzer calls this a surprise move.  “It even goes beyond the devastating cuts in the  NHS ‘Hospital Improvement Plan’.”

The NHS  suggests  that it is one of the few acute-care hospitals that still operate long-term-care beds.  

For the record, most hospitals provide both acute and non-acute services, and some provide long term care services.   NHS provides a whole range of health care services to the community far beyond acute care.   Only half of its in-patients fall into  the ‘acute’ care category.  And many more patients never even see a hospital bed, much less an acute care bed.   Here is NHS' own account of its beds:

Acute (Medical, Surgical, ICU/Cardiac Care, Obstetrics, Paediatrics, Oncology, Palliative, Nephrology, Geriatric Assessment)                                                                                               444

Mental Health (Psychiatric care)                                                                                                 58

Complex Continuing Care                                                                                                        195

Sub-Total Beds (Hospital Services)                                                                                    697

Addiction Services (Detox and Recovery)                                                                                 78

Long Term Care (Residential care for the elderly)                                                                   115

Total Beds (including Addiction & LTC Programs)                                            890       

The hospital also has another 252,512 annual visits to its ambulatory clinics & community programs. 

Selling off long term care sounds like health care fragmentation.  Whatever happened to health care integration?

What's next for the chopping block?  Complex Continuing Care, Addiction Services, Mental Health, Community Programs, Ambulatory Clinics?    

There's no doubt that more services will get the heave-ho if the hospital budget squeeze continues.  

One sign -- Look for the new mantra that hospitals are all and only about acute care. 


Popular posts from this blog

Public sector employment in Ontario is far below the rest of Canada

The suggestion that Ontario has a deficit because its public sector is too large does not bear scrutiny. Consider the following. 

Public sector employment has fallen in the last three quarters in Ontario.  Since 2011, public sector employment has been pretty flat, with employment up less than 4 tenths of one percent in the first half of 2015 compared with the first half of 2011.

This contrasts with public sector employment outside of Ontario which has gone up pretty consistently and is now 4.7% higher than it was in the first half of 2011.

Private sector employment has also gone up consistently over that period. In Ontario, it has increased 4.3% since the first half of 2011, while in Canada as a whole it has increased 4.9%.

As a result, public sector employment in Ontario is now shrinking as a percentage of the private sector workforce.  In contrast, in the rest of Canada, it is increasing. Moreover, public sector employment is muchhigher in the rest of Canada than in Ontario.  Indeed as…

The long series of failures of private clinics in Ontario

For many years, OCHU/CUPE has been concerned the Ontario government would transfer public hospital surgeries, procedures and diagnostic tests to private clinics. CUPE began campaigning in earnest against this possibility in the spring of 2007 with a tour of the province by former British Health Secretary, Frank Dobson, who talked about the disastrous British experience with private surgical clinics.

The door opened years ago with the introduction of fee-for-service hospital funding (sometimes called Quality Based Funding). Then in the fall of 2013 the government announced regulatory changes to facilitate this privatization. The government announced Request for Proposals for the summer of 2014 to expand the role of "Independent Health Facilities" (IHFs). 

With mass campaigns to stop the private clinic expansion by the Ontario Health Coalition the process slowed.  

But it seems the provincial Liberal government continues to push the idea.  Following a recent second OCHU tour wi…

Hospital worker sick leave: too much or too little?

Ontario hospital workers are muchless absent due to illness or disability than hospital workers Canada-wide.  In 2014, Ontario hospital workers were absent 10.2 days due to illness or disability, 2.9 days less than the Canada wide average – i.e. 22% less.  In fact, Ontario hospital workers have had consistently fewer sick days for years.

This is also true if absences due to family or personal responsibilities are included.
Statistics Canada data for the last fifteen years for Canada and Ontario are reported in the chart below, showing Ontario hospital workers are consistently off work less.
Assuming, Ontario accounts for about 38% of the Canada-wide hospital workforce, these figures suggest that the days lost due to illness of injury in Canada excluding Ontario are about 13.6 days per year ([13.6 x 0.68] + [10.2 x 0.38] = 13.1).

In other words, hospital workers in the rest of Canada are absent from work due to illness or disability 1/3 more than Ontario hospital workers. 

In fact, Canad…