It's raining cuts

Premier designate Kathleen Wynne has strongly suggested that hospital cutbacks will continue

 Of the cuts just announced at the Ottawa Hospital, Wynne says the government is "transforming the health-care system, so services that need to be delivered in a hospital setting are delivered in a hospital setting, but services that don't are delivered elsewhere....It means there will be alterations in the health institutions in our cities and our towns."

One would hardly know she is referring to the cut of 290 jobs (and about $31 million) at the Ottawa Hospital.

 The Ottawa cuts are just the latest in a spate of cutback announcements in the last few weeks.

 Bluewater Health in the Sarnia area is looking to cut $5 million by cutting staff, reducing the number of nurses in its cardiac care unit, changing the bedside staffing model, and merging its critical care units.

 The Niagara Health System has recently unveiled a partial plan to deal with its $13 million deficit. The hospital has come up with a plan it says will cut $10 million by (among other points) shutting down operating rooms in three of the hospital sites for six weeks and reducing infection control. And the bad news? There's more to come here.

Quinte, another multi-site hospital corporation, is looking to cut $10 to $15 million.

On this cut, the boss of the South East Local Health Integration Network had the gaul to claim that the cuts will result in "better" care for all (while also suggesting that there is up to 50% waste in health care). The head of the hospital's professional staff association, Dr. Margaret Bryson, tartly replied "It is NOT better...The loss of some services in various communities is a general concern for the Professional Staff Association".

 Similar delusions about miracle productivity improvements were held during the Mike Harris hospital cuts in the 1990s. The very same ideology was mooted as well -- we will cut hospital services, save bags of money, and treat people in the home -- without even increasing home care funding very much! After about three years of such huffing and puffing even the Harris government was forced to reverse directions and quietly started funding hospitals again.

 Apparently, when feeling the political need, new generations of managers are able to convince themselves that previous generations of managers were simply wasting bags of money, but that now, thanks to their own brilliance, a great leap forward will be achieved.

Photo: Paul Schreiber

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