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Ontario has far fewer hospital beds per capita than OECD countries

I was surprised to see that Ontario has fewer acute care beds per capita than any country in the  Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development  (OECD) so I went back and looked at the total number of hospital beds per capita (i.e. not just acute care beds, but also other sorts of hospital beds:  rehabilitation, complex continuing care, and psychiatric beds).  

The results, however, are much the same.   

Figures in the new  health care report from the OECD indicate that the average number of hospital beds per capita of its 34 member countries averaged 5.14 beds per 1,000 population in 2008.  

Canada is a member of the OECD and it has an average well below the OECD rate: 3.3 beds per thousand population in 2008, the last year the OECD reports for Canada. 

That's about 64% of the 2008 OECD average.  The OECD average went up a little in 2009  to 5.3 beds per thousand:  compared to that, the Canadian average falls to 62%.

Ontario Lower
Ontario, however, is in a different league.  In 2009, there were a total of 31,424 hospital beds for a population of 13,064,900.  That's a rate of 2.41 beds per 1,000 population, well less than half the OECD average and less than three-quarters of the Canadian average. 

The good news (I suppose) is that we did manage to edge out Mexico -- it has the honour of having the lowest number of beds per capita (although I'm not sure I'd want to sample their health care system).  

Ontario, however, didn't edge out any other OECD country in 2009.  (Although, admittedly, when Chilean numbers for 2009 become available, they may be lower than Ontario. In 2008 Chile averaged 2.3 beds per thousand.)  Turkey increased its beds in 2009 pulling a little ahead of Ontario to 2.5 beds per thousand.  

In 2010, Ontario's beds per thousand fell further to 2.33 per thousand when 610 hospital beds were cut.  The health care funding plans announced by the Liberals and PCs force me to believe there will likely be much more bad news after the election.  

Not surprisingly, Ontario has very high bed occupancy rates: currently about 97.9%.  The British Medical Association connects high hospital bed occupancy with increases in hospital acquired infections.

Mexico notwithstanding, the 34 OECD countries are the most economically advanced countries in the world.


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