Health care workers are demanding that the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority come clean with the public on the impact of $175 million in cuts it plans to make to health services in the region.
The VCHA redesign and budget management plan for 2003/04 to 2005/06 - quietly deposited on its website Friday - fails to identify the risks associated with the cuts planned for seniors’ care, mental health programs, hospital care and a number of other areas.
HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt says the plan’s lack of detail is characteristic of a deepening crisis of accountability in the health care system, and he’s calling on the VCHA to immediately schedule public hearings on the impact of the cuts.
“Our health authorities are run by un-elected boards who are accountable to no one but their political masters in Victoria,” says Allnutt. “It took a Supreme Court judge to force them to hold public meetings, but they still appear to have difficulty with the concept of openness and transparency.”
Service cuts and fee increases contained in the plan include:
- $25 million in cuts to acute care services over three years;
- 277 long-term care beds lost over three years;
- residential care and home support slashed by $12 million this year;
- $2.2 million in cuts to public and population health programs this year;
- $1.4 million in cuts to mental health programs this year;
- an $8.2 million cash grab from patients through increased charges for TVs and phones, leasing of operating rooms and sales of non-insured health services;
- $4.2 million in resident fee increases to seniors and the disabled in long-term care facilities; and
- $80 million in cuts this year to hospital cleaning, food services, laundry, security and other critical areas.
“These cuts are real and will have a profound impact on health care in our region,” says Allnutt. “It’s unfortunate that the provincial government and its health authority won’t give the public the straight goods about their plans.”