Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday August 5, 2017
This health-care crisis is growing
Hospitals — running over budget, operating beds they don’t have funding for. Emergency rooms — patients stacked up in hallways. Acute care beds — too many blocked, occupied by people waiting to leave hospital but with no place to go. Ambulances — stretched to the limit, often not available at all.
It’s an old story. One we would rather not argue about again. But here’s the problem. Things are not getting better, they’re getting worse. And so this old story appears here yet again in hopes it will take on a new sense of urgency.
Hamilton Health Sciences needs to cut $20 million from its budget, St. Joseph’s Healthcare $7 million. In both cases, staffing will be affected, stretching already thin human resources even thinner. Executive staff are being cut as well as front line. In the case of HHS, three senior executives are leaving. And that’s at a hospital system that already spends below the provincial average on administration, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information. HHS spends 4.9 per cent on administration, higher than the national average of 4.3 per cent but well below the provincial average of 5.6 per cent. Keep that in mind next time someone declares hospitals would be fine if only they cut senior management costs.
Hospitals have seen provincial funding cut repeatedly. The province provided some relief this year with a two per cent increase. That doesn’t even cover inflation.
That’s why it’s so frustrating when Health Minister Eric Hoskins says he doesn’t expect funding to impact patient care. What world do Hoskins and other politicians live in? It’s already affecting patient care. In Ontario, you’re not supposed to spend 48 hours on a bed in a hallway awaiting admission. You shouldn’t expect to wait double-digit hours in the ER. You shouldn’t expect to be told there’s no acute care bed for a sick relative. You shouldn’t expect years-long waiting lists for aging relatives waiting for long-term care. All these are happening and getting more common. (Source: Hamilton Spectator Editorial)