OPSEU has written to Health Minister Deb Matthews over the reduction in mental health beds proposed for London’s Regional Health Centre (St. Joseph’s Health Care).
The aging facility is being replaced by two public-private partnerships (P3s) in London and St. Thomas which will offer far fewer beds. The plan also calls for 50 beds to be transferred to Cambridge this fall and another 59 beds to Windsor next year. The new P3 facilities are scheduled to open in 2015 with a 156-bed London Parkwood site and an 89-bed forensic unit in St. Thomas. London and St. Thomas presently have 450 beds.
While the new London hospital will have the ability to add on 12 more beds, there are about 80 fewer beds in the scheme. The province has already reduced the number of mental health beds to below per capita levels recommended by the Health Restructuring Commission.
While the hospital has given OPSEU an outline of the bed changes, no detailed plan has yet to be released to the public.
The union is concerned that given this represents an integration decision by the South West Local Health Integration Network (SW LHIN), that families, patients, staff and other stakeholders be given an opportunity to provide input on the plan.
This also represents another region of the province where mental health beds from one community are being taken to address the needs of another. In North Bay OPSEU is fighting to retain 31 mental health beds that will transfer to Sudbury when the North East Mental Health Centre moves into its new P3 facility.
“We ask that if additional mental health beds are needed in communities such as Sudbury, Cambridge and Windsor, that new funding be granted to meet these needs,” OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas wrote in the letter.
The union is also calling on a moratorium on further cuts to mental health beds given most mental health centres are at or near capacity.