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'Outcomes are inferior when we deliver on a for-profit basis': Longer wait times at private clinics, according to report


A new study says operating rooms in southwestern Ontario hospitals are being under-utilized because of short staffing.

The report by left-leaning think tank Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives also warns that shifting some medical procedure to private clinics in Ontario will actually lead to longer wait times.

Study author Andrew Longhurst said operating rooms throughout the region are already operating on daytime hours only in most cases, because of lack of staff.

He said moving procedures to private clinics will drain even more staff from the public system.

“Opening up for-profit facilities like we’ve seen in other provinces, that’s just going to exacerbate your existing staffing challenges in the public hospitals, where you have the capacity to do the most volumes,” said Longhurst.

Longhurst was joined by members of the Ontario Health Coalition who held a news conference to discuss the report.

“Underfunding, that has contributed to understaffing, worsened by the pandemic now,” added Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition. “And the staffing that were missing is critical, is nursing health professionals, allied health professionals, and anesthesiologists,” she said.

Longhurst also pointed out that Ontario had the best wait time performance for hip and knee replacement surgeries in Canada last year, while in the public system.

He said jurisdictions that have shifted to private clinics have taken a step backwards.

“The threat with private equity, with hedge funds, with U.S. hospital chains coming into this country is a significant concern,” he said. “What we see from the bio-medical research is that outcomes are inferior when we deliver care on a for profit basis.”

In May of this year, the government passed Bill 60, which allowed private clinics to conduct some surgeries and other procedures. The reason given at the time was that it would reduce wait times.

In a statement provided to CTV News, Ontario's Ministry of Health said there will "always be those who are opposed to innovation," in response to the report's findings.

"But our government is not okay with the status quo. That’s why, as part of Your Health, we announced in January that we are further leverage [sic] community surgical and diagnostic centres to deliver more publicly funded surgeries and procedures to reduce the surgical backlog and overall wait times," a spokesperson for the ministry wrote. Top Stories

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