HAMILTON, ON — Hamilton residents are not on board with closing a hospital, anymore hospital service and patient care cuts or for that matter a new round of hospital bed closures, a poll released today found. Conducted earlier in May, the poll asked over 1200 Hamilton residents questions about area hospitals, which collectively service a population catchment area of over 1.4 million people.
More than nine out of ten (91 per cent) of respondents said they do not support the closure of a Hamilton hospital. 76 per cent said they or a family member has been admitted to hospital in the last five years.
“This shows overwhelmingly that Hamiltonians, support and use our community hospitals. We don’t want to see one close. It would be an extremely unpopular decision if one were targeted for closure,” said Dave Murphy the president of Canadian Union of Public Employee (CUPE) 7800.
As part of a “future vision” plan, expected to be finalized sometime this June, Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) floated closing an entire hospital as a way to contain costs and as a way to deal with several hundred million dollars of deferred building repair and maintenance that the provincial government has not funded.
93 per cent say they do not support cutting care and closing hospital beds as a way to deal with provincial underfunding of hospitals. In fact, 91 per cent responding to the poll say that rather than hospital cuts and closures, they support additional provincial funding for Hamilton hospitals.
Poll findings also show that many people access health services through Hamilton hospitals. 84 per cent of respondents say that they or a family member has accessed some form of care, from emergency to outpatient clinic care, at the hospital in the last five years.
The HHS future plan proposes an expansion of virtual care and dismantling the under-one-roof model of hospital outpatient clinics, to what appears to be non-hospital, privately-run clinics all over the city. Referring to moving outpatient clinics out of the hospital setting, the HHS document says that “when feasible we will also look for opportunities to transfer our knowledge and expertise into settings already being run by our community partners”.
Interestingly the question with the highest result asked about health planning. 94 per cent of respondents said that health planning should be based on what’s best for patients not what’s the least expensive.
“This goes against the current premise of health service planning, which is really based on cost-containment and less care for patients in hospitals,” said Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU) president Michael Hurley.
According to Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) data, Ontario spends 25.3 per cent less than the rest of Canada on hospital care. That means that provincial funding for Hamilton area hospitals would need to increase by $184 million a year in order to reach the average hospital funding level in the rest of Canada.
“For HHS to base a 20-year hospital care plan on what we all know is an underfunded hospital system, is rash planning. The Ontario auditor says health funding needs to be at about 5.8 per cent just to meet inflationary pressures. We think what HHS is proposing is irresponsible,” said Hurley.
Of the more than 1200 poll respondents, 72 per cent are female and 83 per cent are over 51 years old. This is the demographic, studies show that makes many of their family’s health-related decisions.
For more information, please contact:
Michael Hurley President OCHU/CUPE 416-884-0770
Dave Murphy President CUPE 7800 905 -385-4555
Stella Yeadon CUPE Communications 416-559-9300