6/22/12

How low will hospital capacity go in Ontari-ari-ario?

Hospital capacity keeps declining in Ontario, based on one key measure.  

As reported earlier,  per capita hospitalizations in Ontario were already lower than any other province except Quebec in 1995-6.  Hospitalizations in Ontario declined a further 28% in the following fourteen years (ending 2009/10).  That decline was more than any other province and hospitalizations in Ontario are now much less than any other province. 

Per-capita inpatient hospitalizations declined again in 2010/11, according to new data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI).  

For the first time (and probably for the first time in any developed nation, given the very low rate of hospitalizations in Canada compared to other countries) the rate fell below 7,000 hospitalizations per 100,000 population.  The per capita rate is now 6,958 per 100,000 population.  That is a 1.3% decline from 2009-10 (Canada-wide the decline was less -- 0.9%).  

The Ontario rate is now 33.5% lower than it was 15 years earlier. The current rate for all of Canada (including Ontario) is 9.5% higher than the Ontario rate.  

Some hospital bosses don't give a damn about this (see the Toronto Star's report on the CIHI study). This exactly coincides with government policy -- which all but declares the goal is to reduce hospital capacity.  

Mike Harris and his Progressive Conservative government took a similar approach in the mid 1990s. Eventually they quietly changed their emphasis (and their funding).  But not before paying a political price as complaints about hospital back-ups became a bigger political issue.  

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