Freezing hospital budgets is like cutting services: Ontario Coalition of Hospital Unions

A spokesperson for the hospital in Sudbury says it is working on the challenges raised in a report from the Ontario Coalition of Hospital Unions.

With budget freezes in place at hospitals for the 4th year in a row, the OCHU is keeping up the pressure

Michael Hurley is president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions. (Martha Dillman/CBC)

The Ontario Coalition of Hospital Unions has released a report of first-person patient stories. It found that people in Northern Ontario are more affected by problems in the industry. CBC reporter Kate Rutherford spoke about the details.
A spokesperson for the hospital in Sudbury says it is working on the challenges raised in a report from the Ontario Coalition of Hospital Unions.

The Coalition is releasing stories from patients — many of them elderly — who called their anonymous healthcare hotline last year.

There are stories of people lying in the hall in the emergency department for almost a week. Others deal with people who were sent home with hospital-acquired superbugs, or who were misdiagnosed.

Sudbury's hospital is focusing on the needs of the elderly with a special unit that assesses homecare needs, spokesperson Dan Lessard said.
Dan Lessard is a spokesperson for Health Sciences North in Sudbury. (CBC)

"Especially frail seniors, who have been discharged from hospital, still require some help and some medical care. We've set up that unit as a way to ease people back into the community after being discharged from hospital."

Deep cuts to patient services

The coalition says it has received hundreds of calls from patients who tell harrowing stories of dealing with the healthcare system.

Spokesperson Michael Hurley said 600 people called to share their negative experiences.

Many of those calls came from northern Ontario, including Sudbury, where the hospital's budget has been frozen for the last four years.
Once again, Health Sciences North is in the public eye for reports of patients recuperating in beds in the hallways. (CBC)

"A four-year funding freeze means, in practical terms that the hospitals have lost — the Sudbury Regional Hospital — about a quarter of its budget," Hurley said.

"And you see that playing out in deep cuts that are happening to patient services and staff. Not just in Sudbury, but in all the surrounding hospitals."

The Ministry of Health and Long-term Care says it has invested $270 million in home and community care across the province in the past year.

But Hurley said solutions should include re-opening chronic and alternative level of care beds, putting money into not-for-profit care, and improving the quality of home care.

Lessard said the budget freeze is challenging.

He noted the hospital has been helping people who don't need to be in hospital to go home, "because hospital care through, let's say, a hospital bed, is the most expensive care. And it's not necessarily the care that these patients need."