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Dr. Allyson Pollock, a British expert on the funding and delivery of health care services, has a clear message for Canadians: the privatization of hospitals will lead to a reduced quality of patient care, fewer beds and higher costs.

This would be catastrophic for Canada,” Pollock says. “Canada has something that’s very precious. You have nothing like the health care problems we have in the UK. If you go down this route the consequences for healthcare are very serious. The poor will get poorer and the sick will get sicker. It will lead to enormous inequities in provision and supply, and it will hit older people.”

Pollock was invited by CUPE to Canada in order to brief the Romanow commission on the dismal experience in Britain with public private partnerships (P3s) in the health care sector.

A decade after Britain began to introduce P3s, we have now seen a massive reduction in the quality of and access to health care services, including a 30 per cent reduction in the number of hospital beds and a 25 per cent reduction in clinical staffing budgets. This is directly linked to the introduction of privatization into the health care system,” she says.

While in Canada, Pollock is conducting media interviews in Toronto and Vancouver and will speak at a public meeting in Abbotsford, BC, the site of a proposed P3 hospital.

Mr. Romanow has said there is a consensus among Canadians that universal health care is desirable. Simply put, in Britain privatization has marked the death of universality,” she says.