Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Ontario Health Coalition News Release: Stop ER Privatization

Attn: Assignment Editor
September 27, 2006

McGuinty should stop emergency room privatization:
For-profit Med-Emerg is not a solution for doctor shortages

Toronto – A mixture of hospital cooperation and a provincial government initiative could solve the ER staffing problem that has been thrust into the media spotlight in Cambridge this week where for-profit company Med-Emerg is being considered by the hospital board to take over administration of the Emergency Department.

“For-profit emergency department administration is privatization. It siphons hospital care budgets away to profits,” stated Natalie Mehra coalition director. “That money should go to care, as Premier McGuinty said when he was in opposition. We expect the premier to hold this position now.”

“This is a clear case in which privatization is likely to make the problem worse. Med-Emerg is a private company that is not responsible for health policy system-wide. So if they suck profits out of our hospital budgets for their management fees, or if they take doctors away from one community to fill a contract in another community, what do they care? Simply shuffling doctors to one town while creating shortages in another is not a solution. Nor is inviting in a raft of for-profit health companies that have an interest in dismantling the public system for their own profit. The government is best placed to come up with a public, non-profit solution that improves the system for everyone,” she concluded.

“The provincial government should provide the same service by creating a public, non-profit initiative to help out hospitals that are having difficulty finding staff and stop the community-by-community competition. This would have the added benefit of stopping community hospitals competing with each other through paying bonuses to attract emergency room physicians away from other hospitals,” she continued. “The competition between communities for doctors is short-sighted, more expensive for everyone, and ultimately ineffective for Ontarians.”

Clearing Up the Facts:
- Turning over formerly non-profit public hospital functions to for-profit companies is privatization.

- Med-Emerg is a for-profit company that expects to take a profit margin out of publicly-funded hospital contracts.

- Med-Emerg does not create new physicians to meet the shortages, they just move them from place to place. The increase in physician or nurse practitioner supply is provincial policy that rests with the provincial government and the Ontario Medical Association.

- the flaw in moving doctors from place to place is that it doesn’t deal with shortages system-wide.

- hospitals are paying top-ups out of their global budgets to attract ER doctors away from other hospitals. This causes inflationary pressure that is bad for the system as a whole.

For more information: 416-441-2502.

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