Critics call on Campbell to shelve surgery privatization plans

Less than 24 hours after news emerged of the Campbell government’s plans to break an election promise by contracting out thousands of surgical procedures at Richmond Hospital, critics are calling on Victoria to shelve the unprecedented scheme.

Researcher Dr. P.J. Devereaux says conclusive medical evidence shows that patients are at greater risk in for-profit health care settings than in not-for-profit hospitals. “The evidence is consistent, profound and large that there are increased death rates” in private hospitals, the McMaster University cardiologist told the Victoria Times Colonist June 12.

The reason, says Devereaux, is that because of the profit motive, private operators “cut corners on the quality of care and that results in deaths.”

The Times Colonist also revealed today that Premier Campbell first pressed for the privatization of day surgeries at a meeting with B.C.’s top health authority bosses six months ago. But in a pre-election interview with HEU’s newspaper, the Guardian, Campbell said he wanted to get the public system firing on all cylinders to make private clinics redundant.

Meanwhile, HEU’s national union president, Judy Darcy of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, called the privatization move “an outrage” that puts Canada’s entire health care system “in jeopardy.” In a letter to federal health minister Anne McLellan, Darcy called for an immediate moratorium on health care privatization.

To send an urgent action appeal to demand that the Chretien government put a halt to B.C.’s privatization plans click here

The federal NDP also zeroed in on the B.C. government’s privatization bid. In question period June 12, NDP MP Bill Blaikie said the B.C. Liberals were “Canada’s leader in contracting out care” and grilled McLellan on how the federal government would protect Medicare.

And women’s activists charge that the well-being of women patients will be put at risk if surgeries like breast mastectomies and vaginal hysterectomies—some of the obstetrical and gynecological procedures targeted for privatization—are transferred away from acute care facilities to stand-alone private clinics.

Vancouver Women’s Health Collective spokesperson Caryn Duncan says that if women undergoing these significant procedures develop complications, they need immediate access to a full range of emergency and surgical services that aren’t available at for-profit clinics.

The CBC has obtained copies of the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority’s privatization tender documents, which can be downloaded in pdf format by clicking on the links below.

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