The Ontario government has announced a for-profit hospital project in Markham, the third confirmed P3 hospital in the province. P3 hospitals also loom in Uxbridge and Timmins.
The $110 million redevelopment of the Markham Stoufville Hospital was announced in the shadow of charges Health Minister Tony Clement is in conflict of interest for taking donations from several corporations now shortlisted for bidding on P3 hospitals in Ottawa and Brampton. CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospital Unions and the Ontario Health Coalition are calling on the province’s integrity commissioner to investigate the web of donations to both Clement and the provincial Tories.
News of the P3 hospital comes as a report reveals one of Britain’s flagship for-profit hospitals is a disaster. An official investigation by the Commission for Health Improvement (CHI) found “lack of space and privacy,” and lengthy waiting lists for scans and cancer treatments at the hospital.
Unison, the British union that represents public sector workers, interviewed staff at the hospital and in a separate report found that “patients are so close they can shake hands with each other.” Sewage has been “bubbling up and out over the top of the sink” where staff scrub before entering operating rooms. Out-of-control temperatures, unchecked leaks and doors hanging off their hinges are other problems detailed in the report. One staff person said they’ve lost patients because of “abysmal” signage.
The CHI report also exposes the lie that for-profit hospitals are ’just bricks and mortar’, showing that design, ownership and operation impact on care. Ward areas were “cramped” and had “considerable clutter.” Areas for patients, such as shower rooms, had been converted into storage space. Investigators found staff were feeling stress from overwhelming workloads, arising from a shortage of workers. The Cumberland Infirmary was the first British hospital built under the Private Finance Initiative, a scheme similar to P3s.