Privatizing hospitals not what it’s cracked up to be, British health policy expert says

News release

Hear Dr. Allyson Pollock at free public forum on Feb. 8, 7 p.m., at Abbotsford’s Matsqui Centennial Auditorium

As B.C.’s Liberal government and the Fraser Health Authority are poised to proceed with a plan for Canada’s first private hospital in the Fraser Valley, a British doctor and health policy expert says that the move will lead to a reduced quality of patient care, fewer beds and higher costs.

“The privatization of hospitals would be catastrophic for British Columbia and Canada,” says Dr. Pollock who heads the Health Services and Health Policy Research Unit at the School of Public Policy, University College London. “Canadians have something that’s very precious in their public health care system. Privatization is not the answer to modernizing Medicare.

“If B.C. follows the United Kingdom’s example of privatizing hospitals, the consequences to health care will be very serious. It will lead to enormous inequities in provision and supply of health care services, and that will hit the poor, the disabled and older people particularly hard.”

Dr. Pollock says that the U.K. implemented its version of public/private partnerships — the private finance initiative or PFI — for health care in 1992. She says this is essentially a “finance-own-operate” scheme that involves the private sector in all facets of hospitals.

“In order to pay profits to private investors, the U.K.’s National Health Services has undergone massive downsizing, including: a 30 per cent decrease in the number of hospital beds, a 25 per cent decrease in clinical staff budgets, huge reductions in public services and loss of public accountability,” she says.

Tomorrow’s free public forum will feature Pollock and respected UBC health economist and professor Dr. Robert Evans. Comments and questions will be taken from the audience after the speakers’ presentations.

What: Free public forum on private hospitals When: 7:00 - 9:30 p.m., Friday, February 8 Where: Matsqui Centennial Auditorium, 32315 South Fraser Way, Abbotsford

-30- For interview information, please contact at 604 456 7094: Margi Blamey, communications officer, 604 785 5324 (cell)