VIHA launches another round of cuts to Island health services

Waitlists to increase while care declines

THE FACT THAT THE VANCOUVER ISLAND HEALTH AUTHORITY (VIHA) is sitting on $133 million in investments hasn’t stopped it from pursuing the privatization of hospital support services and launching a new round of across-the-board cuts to many of the health care services Island residents rely on.

Claiming the need to avert a $43.5 million deficit by March 31, VIHA is about to slash all program budgets by two per cent, increase surgical wait lists, and introduce more extra charges for hospitalized patients.

And that’s in addition to the anticipated loss of more than a thousand skilled and experienced health care workers who are about to lose their jobs to privatization.

Details of VIHA’s cost-cutting agenda are contained in its Health Services Redesign Plan 2003/04-2005/06, issued August 28.

“Predictably, VIHA’s latest cutbacks scheme is couched in bureaucratic doublespeak, but what it amounts to is serious reductions in services and patient care, increased costs to patients, and more layoffs,” says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt.

“British Columbians are paying a terrible price for the harmful fiscal policies of this government,” says Allnutt. “And VIHA is supporting those policies by refusing to look at alternatives to contracting out.”

On a positive note, Allnutt says HEU is supportive of the health authority’s decision to consolidate lab services and move away from fee for service billing for diagnostic lab testing in the private sector.

Click here to download an electronic copy of the redesign plan

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