07/04/04

News release
The first Hospital Employees' Union ad airing on province-wide TV in 2002 raises questions about the impact of health care privatization on patient care and the records of private companies who are trying to cash-in.

Watch the HEU TV ad "Disturbing Results" (requires software that can play .mpg files such as Windows Media Player or Real One Player)

Click here to download Real Player

The Gordon Campbell government says it will privatize hundreds of millions of dollars worth of health care services.

The private corporations intent on winning contracts to provide cleaning, laundry and food service contracts say they'll cut wages to as low as the minimum wage. They've even claimed that they'll blacklist experienced health care workers because of their union membership.

But Gordon Campbell's rush to privatize health services has already had some disturbing results.

Here are the examples used in the TV ad entitled "Disturbing Results":

"several reports of linen noted to have fecal smears, blood and dirt." San Francisco Weekly, September 8, 1999

The article cites a memo written by infection control officers about the state of privatized laundry services at the USHC hospital affiliated with the University of Califoria and Stanford University.

That memo also raises questions about whether the private laundry company "is washing linens used on patient beds along with dirty laundry from animal research labs."

The corporation in question is Sodexho Marriot part of the French-based corporation Sodexho. That company has also indicated an interest in bidding on hospital services in B.C. that the Campbell government plans to put out for tender.

"bloody surgical scrubs dumped in lift used to carry patients' meals." Glasgow Evening Times, January 25, 2002

The Scottish newspaper documented other disturbing housekeeping practices at Glasgow Royal Infirmary including:

  • "a cleaner in a ward hit by two superbugs being told to serve patients meals after mopping up toilets"
  • "tunnels below the Victorian-built hospital have been turned into firetraps by piles of waste"
  • "Cleaners say they are so short staffed ... that they have no time to dust critical areas."
"a student found thumb fragment in her sandwich." Cape Cod Times, December 30, 2001

The cafeteria run by Sodexho Marriot at Barnstable High School in Hyannis, Maryland served up a thumb fragment in a turkey and tomato sandwich to an unsuspecting student. A worker lost the thumb fragment in an accident involving a high speed slicing device.

"Thousands of health jobs to be privatized: leaked document" Vancouver Sun, March 5, 2002

Gordon Campbell's rush to privatize health services has already had some disturbing results. Earlier this spring, a leaked top-level government document outlined the Liberal’s plans to target 20,000 jobs for privatization and deep wage cuts.

privatization: the wrong answer for patients

better ideas for health care:

  • the provincial government should suspend the privatization of health care services right now, before more mistakes are made
  • an arm's length, independent investigation into the impact of privatization on patient care is urgently required
  • health care reforms can't be made behind closed doors the province's health authority boards must hold their meetings in public and consult with the community and front-line health care workers before making changes