The association that represents physiotherapists across Canada is calling a move that will see some Manitobans pay out of pocket for outpatient physiotherapy and occupational therapy short-sighted.
"Patients are going to be hurt because physiotherapy brings quality of life to patients," said Kate O'Connor, director of practice and policy for the Canadian Physiotherapy Association.
"It's actually quite short-sighted."
The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority said Tuesday it's moving adult outpatient physiotherapy and occupational therapy clinics out of hospital to private-practice providers by mid-October.
Daphne Hart goes to outpatient physiotherapy twice a week at Seven Oaks General Hospital and is recovering from knee replacement surgery. She doesn't want the program at Seven Oaks to end.
'We need our physio'
"I think it's terrible because we need our physio, and a lot of people can't afford private, so we need this and they shouldn't be slashing it," she said.
O'Connor said the move would likely mean higher readmission rates to hospital, and there is evidence to show there will be an impact on the acute care system.
The Manitoba Association of Health Care Professionals is calling the move a privatization of health care.
"Sometimes they try to couch this," said Bob Moroz, the association's president.
Exceptions will be made for specialty rehabilitation services, such as those provided by a spine clinic, specialized neuro-services and amputee services, which will continue out of the Health Sciences Centre, the health authority has said.
Fees would be waived for patients who don't meet a minimum income level for the remaining outpatient services, a spokesperson said.
$1.5 million in savings: WRHA
The WRHA said the change is expected to save the region $1.5 million in the 2017-2018 and $3.5 million in 2018-2019 but couldn't say how many jobs might be cut as a result of the changes.
Health officials say there were 4,185 occupational therapy visits from April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017, with 733 new patients assessed during that time period.
The region said meanwhile,10,567 physiotherapy referrals were received from April 1, 2016, to March 31, 2017, and 6,235 new patients assessed.
The WRHA's move is the latest in a series of cuts aimed at saving $83 million from its budget to meet a mandate given by the province.