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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Ontario Health Coalition: McGuinty Warned Against British Revolt

Ontario Health Coalition
McGuinty Health Reforms Risk Major Backlash: See British Revolt
Released November 21, 2006
Toronto - Today the Ontario Health Coalition warned the McGuinty government that copying Britain's health reforms is a dangerous path. The McGuinty government's "health transformation agenda" and infrastructure plan copies many of the major initiatives of Britain's Tony Blair government including:
  • <>more than 33 privatized P3 hospitals, a model of privatization pioneered in Britain
  • <>the introduction of competition for funding between different communities' hospitals
  • local health integration networks that are poised to act as purchasers for health services (similar to the UK's Strategic Health Authorities).

In recent weeks Blair's government has been rocked by major protests over its health policies that newspapers are describing as the biggest revolt since the poll tax.

"The reforms the Ontario government is copying from Britain cast aside Canada Health Act requirements for comprehensiveness and accessibility in favour of an expensive administrative experiment," said Natalie Mehra, director of the Ontario Health Coalition. "The consequences are predictable. In Britain, local hospital services have been cut by hospitals losing in funding competitions. Patients have been forced to travel to numerous different facilities for different services. The formerly public National Health Service is now deeply privatized. The introduction of the market competition caused administrative costs to increase dramatically. Both the political left and the right are decrying the money that is pouring out of the health system into privately financed hospital projects."

"The political consequences of favouring privatization, market mechanisms, and the latest management fads over human need have become abundantly clear as the British population has taken to the streets to reject the closure of local hospital departments and privatization. The McGuinty government should take note. If we continue to follow the British course, the same thing will happen here," she warned.

British protests:

November 1- thousands rallied at the British parliament described as "the biggest lobby against health cuts since Labour came to power united surgeons and laboratory workers, health visitors and care assistants, senior midwives and young nurses not yet out of training. In many of their hospitals, clinics and surgeries colleagues worked overtime to let them deliver the urgent message..." (The Guardian, November 2).

October 25 - Scottish National Party (SNP) leader Alex Salmond has declared, "Labour's PFI disaster will cost Scotland an additional £5bn" and called for the abolition of P3s ( www.pppbulletin.co.uk/about). (PFI is the UK term for P3). SNP is leading in opinion polls and looks poised to win the next election. P3 in Scotland has a chequered history with the Scottish Executive forced to buy out several projects, at an inflated rate, from local health regions that cannot afford the project payments. Currently there is resentment over a proposal that an A&E (Emergency) department in South Lanarkshire will close as a cost cutting exercise to finance a hospital built using P3. The Royal Edinburgh P3 has been plagued by scandal over shady land deals, loss of public control and high costs.

On October 27 the Conservatives reversed themselves on the P3 hospital policy that they put in place 14 years ago after obtaining figures showing that the eventual repayments for 83 hospital building projects worth £8bn would total £53bn under the P3 program. Calling the costs "complete lunacy" the Conservative health critic Andrew Lansley said, "It is perverse that, with hospitals around the country now suffering cutbacks and closures, over 80 NHS organisations are locked into long-term contracts for the building of large hospitals that we have no idea whether the NHS will actually need." (Guardian Unlimited, October 27).

On October 26, The Guardian reported that, "Grassroots protests against hospital cuts and NHS reorganisations across England have in recent months become the most widespread and prolonged unrest since the poll tax revolt in 1990." Petitions have been signed by tens of thousands in key Labour seats. In September Paul McCartney gave his support to 7,000 marchers campaigning to save emergency and maternity services at a local hospital in Hastings. Protests have attracted thousands at Hayle in Cornwall, Oxford, Nottingham, Banbury, Huntingdon, Stroud, Ludlow and the Forest of Dean. Labour's chief whip is in political trouble over cuts to her local hospital as is cabinet minister Charles Clarke. Health Minister Patricia Hewitt is being challenged by Barry Monk, a dermatologist, threatening to stand on a "Save Bedford Hospital" ticket. In 2001 Richard Taylor campaigning as an independent seized Wyre Forest from Labour and held it in 2005 in a campaign against downgrading Kidderminster hospital. The government has created a "heat map" to provide early warning of political trouble ahead.

2 comment(s):

DOLTON maguintys at it again.

By Anonymous scout, at 1:40 PM  

"DOLTON" is a good name for him! Yes, he's constantly at it, saying (promising?) one thing, doing another. Typical forked-tongued politician... No wonder I have no respect for them...

By Blogger Annamarie, at 8:56 PM  

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