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The Threat of Privatization to Health
April 12, 2012 - 8:30am EST
As discussed at April CAW Ontario health Care Council, have a look at this video from the show Marketplace on CBC. It raises important questions about the cleanliness of hospitals in light of hospital-acquired infections (HAI). Understaffing, contracting out, and overcrowding are shown to cause dirtier hospitals and more preventable infections.

At the Niagara Health System, after a highly publicized outbreak of C. difficile was linked to the deaths of 30 patients since late May, the hospitals have taken a number of measures to prevent further spread of the bug including hiring more cleaners and bringing in two infection-control teams. Niagara Health Systems had brought in a private contractor from the United States to do the cleaning, and staff represented by SEIU warned for years that cleanliness and infection control were breaking down in its hospitals but NHS administrators would not listen.

And it also matters who delivers clinical hospital services. Private alternatives not only cost more; they damage the public system and put tax dollars and patient care at risk. This is the conclusion of a Parkland Institute report examining Alberta’s experience in using a now-defunct private clinic in Calgary — Health Resources Centre — to perform orthopedic procedures on contract to the former Calgary Health Region.

The report says the government had promised a cost-benefit analysis on using private service providers, but this has never been completed or published. However, the Institute was able to obtain documents through a freedom-of-information request on the cost of providing procedures at HRC. It calculated that total hip and knee replacements cost $7,724 or almost 7 per cent more than in the public system.

The Employer, Alberta Health Services has confirmed that the HRC was more expensive, but it was still a beneficial arrangement because it added capacity and patients going to HRC had shorter lengths of stay. (Calgary Herald, Apr. 11). It didn’t explain why a similar investment in public hospitals would not have also added capacity or shortened length of stays. The Parkland Institute report can be found at http://parklandinstitute.ca.

In solidarity,

Corey Vermey
CAW National Representative
Research/Pension & Benefits Department

Please click on 'Link to url 'below for CBC's Marketplace story
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