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Regina - The Saskatchewan government and Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region should expand surgical capacity by investing in the long-awaited public ambulatory surgery centre in Regina, not for-profit surgical clinics.

That’s the message in a new television ad produced by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) that airs today on Regina television stations.

The Saskatchewan Government postponed capital funding for the $14 million day surgery centre in 2009, when it decided to invest in for-profit surgical clinics, promising private health care would expand surgical capacity.

But  a year after the health region embarked on this controversial plan, the number of surgeries in the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region has dropped, not increased. Information posted in September 2011 on the government’s surgical website shows 20,452 surgeries were performed in the health region between September 2010 and July 2011, while 20,463 surgeries were done over the same period a year before.

The data also suggest the use of private surgical clinics has harmed the capacity of the public health system. The region saw 576 fewer surgeries performed in public operating rooms. In contrast, 565 surgeries were performed in Omni’s private clinic.

Instead of expanding surgical capacity, the region has simply transferred the surgical work to the private sector,” said Gordon Campbell, President of the CUPE Health Care Council.

That’s not what the Saskatchewan government and health region promised would happen when they privatized these medical services a year ago. A government briefing note from February 2011 claimed: “We are expanding both public and private sector capacity in order to reduce surgical wait times.”

Campbell dismisses the health region’s suggestion that private clinics have helped to reduce wait times. “Wait times have been dropping for years across the country because of a ten-year federal-provincial-territorial strategy implemented in 2004,” he said.

For more information:      

Gordon Campbell

Website: keephealthcarepublic.ca