With reports that the Tory government is planning to restructure the province’s health planning networks, the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU) and the Ontario Nurses’ Association are ringing alarm bells.
According to media reports, the provincial government is looking at dissolving the Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) and replacing them with no more than five regional oversight bodies that would monitor spending by hospitals and long-term care homes.
The OCHU is urging Premier Doug Ford to instead focus on proper funding for hospitals and ending hallway medicine. “Rather than a solution, the evidence shows from the last PC government’s experiment in the 1990s with restructuring, that it is a shell game and has never saved money,” says president Michael Hurley.
The PC government headed by Mike Harris had a special “restructuring commission” to merge or close dozens of hospitals. The Auditor General revealed, however, that the mergers and hospital restructuring actually cost the province $3.2 billion, the OCHU reports.
The ONA, meanwhile, is “deeply concerned” about the impact of restricting Ontario’s 14 LHINs and is calling for consultation with ONA and other key stakeholders prior to any changes. “It is absolutely necessary that the government consult with ONA,” notes ONA President Vicki McKenna, RN.
“We have a wealth of knowledge and experience with patients requiring home care coordination and placement into long-term care homes. We are happy to share that knowledge for the benefit of the system and those who rely on it.”