Confirmed bed closures at St. Paul’s just the beginning says HEU

News release

More health service reductions expected in wake of Liberals’ extended funding freeze

The Hospital Employees’ Union warns that confirmation from St. Paul’s Hospital that more than 60 beds will be closed by the middle of November and staff displaced, is only the beginning of more bed cuts and health service reductions around B.C. as health administrators struggle to cope with the Liberal government’s funding freezes.

“British Columbians can expect more bed closures and further reductions in health service not only in acute care but in continuing and community care as well, and it’s all due to the Liberal government’s financial decisions,” says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt.

None of the 67 beds designated for closure are among those already “temporarily closed”.

Staff displacements will accompany the bed closures with 18 licensed practical nurses, 3 unit clerks and 24 registered nurses slated to receive displacement notices as early as next week. The hospital has not yet calculated the impact on health workers in other areas such as food services, housekeeping and laundry but has acknowledged that there will be displacements in support services, too.

The St. Paul’s bed closures are an attempt to lessen a projected eight million dollar shortfall in its 2001/02 budget. The hospital is part of the Vancouver/Richmond Health region which is anticipating a 2001/02 deficit of approximately $54 million.

Allnutt says finance minister Gary Collins’ announcement earlier this week of a 3-year funding freeze in health care has compounded the problems B.C. health authorities were already facing. “We’re beginning to see the real cost of Premier Campbell’s generous tax cuts to the wealthy and to corporations.”