All show and no tell at health care briefing

It was all show and no tell at the government's long-awaited announcement on the future of health care in British Columbia.

In a carefully stage-managed news conference held in downtown Vancouver today, the Liberal government unveiled its vision for the future of health services in the province. Chief Executive Officers and chairs of the province's six health authorities were summoned to Vancouver to present their plans for health care delivery.

"The presentations were long on rhetoric and short on details," Health Sciences Association of BC President Cindy Stewart said.

"There were repeated references to protecting services and putting patients first, but the only details we saw were about dramatic reductions in service, including the closure of several facilities and radical changes to many others," she said.

"For example, in the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, they are contemplating the closure of G.F. Strong, a world-renowned rehabilitation centre and planning to transfer more rehabilitation services to regions outside the Lower Mainland. Unfortunately, today's announcement failed to explain how health authorities would enhance services when they are already cutting $567 million from their budgets."

Stewart also expressed concern that today's announcement contained numerous references to public-private partnerships without providing specific examples.

"Today's announcements focussed on where services will be provided, but were eerily silent on who will provide the services. HSA continues to have serious concerns about the privatization of direct services to patients and the impact this would have on continuity of care - as well as access to care," she said.