Health Minister Deb Matthews is sticking to her line to explain the $24.7 million in cuts planned for Hamilton area hospitals this year.
"We have to rebalance our health care system so we've got more money invested in home care and community based care. Too many people are in hospital when they don't need to be in hospital and they could be cared for at home if the resources were there," Matthews told the Hamilton Spectator.
Hamilton Health Sciences is shaving $15 million while St. Joe's is looking to cut $7.5 million. Joseph Brant hospital in Burlington is looking to save $2.2 million. The Spec lays out the following cuts planned for Hamilton Health Sciences:
"$1 million in service cuts to operating rooms, the west-end urgent care centre and to musculoskeletal outpatient physiotherapy;
$1 million to delay robotic dispensing of medications;
$2.9 million shaved from administration and support such as reducing costs of contracts;
$0.8 million from pharmacy, lab and allied health, including reducing social work hours;
$4.9 million by becoming more efficient, through reducing sick time and overtime, for example;
$0.2 million in improving how hospital beds are used;
$0.1 million in amalgamating services such as the library;
$1.8 million in finding ways to generate more revenue in services such as retail pharmacy;
$2.3 million in other strategies that don't impact front-line care."
Despite Matthews protestations, most home health care services have been reduced or flatlined in recent years, and the government plans to slow the growth in home support services. In any case, how some of the cuts noted above could ever be made up by better home care is far from clear (operations in the home, perhaps?).
The "good" news is the $15 million in cuts planned for Hamilton Health Sciences is at the low end of the estimates suggested in January, when the hospital forecast $15 to $22 million in cuts based on a funding increase of either 0% or 1%.
Hospitals were supposed to have finalized their funding accountability agreements by the end of June. So more information about hospital budget cuts may be available for your local hospital.