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Report to slam province on health care cuts

By: Jonathan Migneault - Sudbury Northern Life

 | Feb 24, 2014 - 3:38 PM |
A report titled "Pushed Out of Hospital, Abandoned at Home: After Twenty Years of Budget Cuts, Ontario’s Health System is Failing Patients," is expected to comment on how Ontario's health care system has failed the elderly. File photo.

A report titled "Pushed Out of Hospital, Abandoned at Home: After Twenty Years of Budget Cuts, Ontario’s Health System is Failing Patients," is expected to comment on how Ontario's health care system has failed the elderly. File photo.

Outpatient services have not made up for cuts to hospitals, report says

Funding cuts to Ontario's hospitals over the past 20 years have had a “catastrophic” impact on the province's health care system, and community-based outpatient services have not had the financial support to make up the difference, says an upcoming report.

"Pushed Out of Hospital, Abandoned at Home: After Twenty Years of Budget Cuts, Ontario’s Health System is Failing Patients," a report that will be released by the Ontario Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (OSLA) and the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU) Tuesday, appears to paint of picture of a province lagging behind on health care delivery.

“Over 20 years, the province has cut 19,000 hospital beds, many of them assess and restore and continuing care beds, once the mainstay of convalescent care for older patients,” said a press release ahead of the report. “Today, access to in-hospital restorative care and rehabilitation therapies is severely reduced and the promised outpatient services in the community and home are non-existent.”

The release says the elderly are most affected by cuts to the health-care system.

“Far from delivering ‘the right care, in the right place, at the right time,’ as the Ontario’s health minister claims, health reforms are failing Ontario patients, particularly the elderly, abysmally. Age discrimination is actively at play,” said OCHU’s president Michael Hurley, in the release.

The report's introduction, which was sent to Northern Life prior to the full release, says funding per capita for home care in Ontario declined by 14 per cent between 2004 and 2009.

Today, there are more than 10,000 Ontarians on a waiting list for some type of health service support at home and another 25,000 waiting for a nursing home bed, it continues.

The introduction goes to to say that Ontario's average length of stay in hospital has dropped by 25 per cent over the past 20 years, but that has resulted in a rising re-admittance rate.

One in six patients are re-admitted to hospital within 30 days of being discharged, it says.

Ontario patients also receive 6.1 hours fewer nursing care than patients in other provinces, the introduction says.

The Pushed Out of Hospital, Abandoned at Home report will make a number of recommendations, including a call to re-open chronic and alternative level of care beds to give the frail and elderly the in-hospital restorative care and therapies they require.

The report will also recommend the province not ration care, and instead give those who need home care, therapies or other services the care hours they need, without being charged user fees.

More details from the report will be available following the Feb. 25 release.
Jonathan Migneault

Jonathan Migneault

Staff Writer

@jmigneault

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