Interior Health Authority’s $56 million cut to patient care means hospitals will close — secret document

News release

HEU demands immediate release of IHA’s review into the fate of 32 hospitals

The Interior Health Authority will slash $56 million from direct services to patients and residents, according to a secret government briefing document released to the media earlier this week. And those cuts can’t be made without closing hospitals, says the Hospital Employees’ Union (CUPE).

The ministerial briefing materials indicate that the IHA will cut spending by $55.8 million in fiscal year 2002/03 through “clinical efficiencies.” Another $7.5 million will be cut from administration and support areas.

“It’s hard to imagine how health care managers will find `efficiencies’ of this magnitude in a system that’s already operating on fumes,” says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt.

“British Columbia already has one of the leanest hospital sectors in the country,” adds Allnutt. “Cuts of this magnitude cannot be accomplished without doing serious long-term damage to public health care delivery including the closure of hospitals.”

HEU is calling for the immediate release of the IHA’s Acute Care Role Review into the fate of 32 hospitals and five diagnostic and treatment centers. Allnutt says there needs to be a public dialogue about the IHA’s review before the government moves to close any hospitals in the region.

“There’s fear and uncertainty from Bella Coola to Fernie about the future of local health care facilities,” says Allnutt. “The public needs to know what hospital closure plans are being made by the Campbell Liberals and their IHA board appointee.”

The health services minister has asked health authorities to provide a list of hospital closures by the end of next week.

On Friday, IHA board chair Alan Dolman was pressed by HEU members at a meeting in Vernon to confirm or deny that hospitals in Enderby and Armstrong are on the chopping block. Dolman would do neither.

For more information, contact Mike Old, communications officer, 604-456-7037 (direct) or 604-828-6771 (cell)