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Outpatients needing X-ray and ultrasound examinations at the hospital in Bowmanville, Ont., will soon have to visit a private clinic rather than the hospital, the union representing technologists at Lakeridge Health says.

Leslie Sanders, president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union Local 348, said the hospital’s planned layoffs would reduce the level of available service. Instead, outpatients would likely be directed to a private clinic.

This change amounts to privatization by stealth,” Sanders said. “By cutting these services in the hospital, Lakeridge is effectively moving this work to another entity, forcing clients to turn to a private clinic for service.”

The hospital told OPSEU it planned to reduce X-ray and ultrasound staffing from more than seven full-time-equivalent positions to three positions.

Technologists at the hospital face layoffs and uncertainty. “When health care services are contracted out, it creates chaos for health care workers as well as patients,” Sanders added. “Our community could even lose some of these highly trained professionals whose skills are very much in demand.”

OPSEU warned that the privatization of hospital services could make it easier for the Ontario government to move these services out of the provincial health plan altogether.

Once services are moved out of the hospital, what’s left to stop the government from moving to user-pay, as it recently did with physiotherapy and eye exams?” Sanders asked.