St. Paul’s Hospital contemplates massive bed closures

News release

Real cost of tax cuts signals end to Liberal honeymoon, says HEU

The Hospital Employees’ Union learned on Friday that St. Paul’s Hospital is seriously considering shutting down its entire eighth floor — a total of seventy-two beds.

This is only the first of many expected responses to the recent Liberal government’s directive to acute care facilities to operate within current budget allocations. This amounts to huge reductions as these facilities are expected to deal with inflation, population growth and wage increases with no new money.

“British Columbians are now going to start seeing and feeling the results of the measures bulldozed through the legislature in this government’s first 90 days,” says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt. “The honeymoon is over.”

St. Paul’s is saying that staff displacements and service reduction will be inevitable as it attempts to lessen a projected eight million dollar shortfall in its 2001/02 budget.

The hospital speculates that the bed reductions would save $6.4 million this year and $12 million next year. Many of the 72 beds are already `temporarily closed’ the hospital announced, but changing their status to `indefinitely closed’ significantly impacts both staffing levels and the delivery of health care to the public, says Allnutt.

“This signals the first of similar moves other health authorities will be forced to make in order to fulfill Victoria’s goals,” he says. The Vancouver/Richmond Health region is projecting a 2001/02 budget deficit of approximately $54 million. Health authorities throughout B.C. are also projecting deficits.

Allnutt says the Liberals chose tax cuts over health care and other social programs and St. Paul’s Hospital’s action is a direct result of the government’s choice.