Now that hospitals are subject to Freedom of Information requests, how accessible will this information really be? It all depends on the hospital and how much money you have.
It cost us $1,637.76 to find out what the ratio of staff to management was at 20 hospital corporations. That includes the $5 processing fee it takes to initiate the request.
Hospitals came under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act on January 1st of this year, although the Ontario Hospital Association sought and received additional exemption from divulging quality information under specific circumstances.
For years we have heard front line staff complain that their numbers have dwindled while the ranks of management have increased. We decided to test that question with requests to 20 randomly selected hospitals where OPSEU represents members. This includes four mental health centres – Penetanguishene’s Waypoint Centre, Whitby’s Ontario Shores, London’s St. Joseph’s Health Centre (Regional Mental Health), and the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group.
Posted in Health System, Hospitals
Tagged Bluewater Health, Chatham-Kent Health Alliance, FIPPA, Freedom of Information, Grey Bruce Health Services, Hamilton Health Sciences, Hawkesbury and District Hospital, Health Sciences North, Hospital Freedom of Information, Kingston General Hospital, Niagara Health System, Ontario Shores, Peterborough Regional Health Centre, Quinte Health, Rouge Valley Health System, Royal Ottawa Health Group, South Bruce Grey Health Centre, The Ottawa Hospital, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences, Waypoint Centre, Windsor Regional Hospital, York Central Hospital
It’s generally good heart health NOT to read the on-line comments following major stories in the commercial media.
There is a concept called “astro-turfing” in which individuals are paid to troll through major media and leave specific comments behind. Each day they are given key points to make by their employers. The impression is that these comments reflect the “grass roots,” when in fact it is all calculated, planned, and presumably well-funded. Hence, the reference to astroturf, or an artificial “grass roots.”
This is not to say that every stupid comment reflects that of a paid astroturfer, but, well, it’s rather obvious at times.
This week Health Minister Deb Matthews told the media that 36 hospitals will have their budgets cut by as much as three per cent as the new hospital funding formula rolls out.
The statement leaves many questions, including which hospitals are going to lose revenue as the government shifts to a blended funding model. The Health Minister gives no clue as to what the base funding will look like – for that we have to wait for the March 27 provincial budget. The South East LHIN has told its hospitals to expect no increase in base funding, while some hospitals elsewhere in the province say they are planning for a one per cent base increase.
The Drummond Commission on Public Service Reform recommends a 2.5 per cent increase in health care funding over each of the next four years, but most of that is intended to go to community-based care, not hospitals. Over the summer the Ontario Auditor General warned that a 3.6 per cent increase in overall health care funding would likely put hospitals back into deficit or require significant cuts to services.
There’s a study beckoning to be done: the impact of the Drummond Commission report on women.
On this International Women’s Day we face an unprecedented attack on the public sector – a sector in which employment belongs 60 per cent to women.
In health care, that number is even higher – 82 per cent.
While there is much talk about sharing the pain from the last recession, the reality is those who rely the most upon public services and those who deliver them are really being asked to shoulder the cost. More often that not, these are women.
Our friend David Musyj is mellowing.
The CEO of Windsor Regional Hospital, once a vocal advocate for wage freezes, now says either freeze all wages or none at all.
Musyj told the Windsor Star that it’s a morale breaker when the government freezes wages for just one group.
He says the impact of extending the freeze will be negative because further penalizing this group for “political gain” is grossly unfair.
We agree. As public sector workers, it is a morale breaker to see calls for more austerity when our wage increases are already well below the private sector.
As private not-for-profit corporations, Ontario’s hospitals are not normally subject to review by the Ombudsman’s office – a point Andre Marin has made over and over as he attempts to wrestle for jurisdiction of the MUSH sector – municipalities, universities, school boards and hospitals.
However, when the Ministry takes over a hospital, as it did with the appointment of Kevin Smith last August 31st, the rules change.
To date, the Ombudsman has received 79 complaints about Niagara Health System, but says he has not begun an investigation. According to the Niagara’s Bullet News, the Ombudsman’s office has been looking at each complaint and raising issues with Smith.
The complaints have also been petering out over time. Forty of the 79 complaints were received last September. Only a “handful” have been made this year according to the news report.
The merger is off.
In a surprise move, the Toronto East General Hospital board pulled out of discussions with The Scarborough Hospital over a possible merger.
The hospital noted the lack of support by the Central East Local Health Integration Network for such a merger (see Friday’s BLOG story).
A $90,000 consultant’s report, initially to have been released to the public in March, was released on the TEGH web site Friday. The CEOs have had the report since February 17.