Liberals misled public over promise to protect "clinical services" says HSA
After promising that the government would protect "clinical services" in hospitals, the Campbell Liberals have quietly approved regulations that will allow health employers to privatize a variety of direct services to patients, including respiratory therapy, speech pathology, CT scans and MRI.
Although the Liberal government claimed that Bill 29 would allow hospitals to privatize only "non-clinical services" such as laundry, janitorial and security services, the Health Sciences Association of BC has learned that the legislation will have far wider implications.
"This confirms that Bill 29 has nothing to do with improving patient care and everything to do with ideology," said HSA president Cindy Stewart. "Privatizing direct services to patients will lead to a more fractured health care system and reduce access for those who need it most. Private companies are driven by profit and that means either cutting services or increasing user fees.
"Rural and remote communities will also see more health care services concentrated in larger centres, forcing patients to travel to get the tests and treatment they need."
Stewart said that following the introduction of Bill 29, HSA was shocked that the government's definition of "non-clinical services" includes many professions that provide direct care to patients. The union met with the Minister of Health Services to outline their concerns, but learned recently that the Liberals had quietly approved regulations confirming the original definition.
"Gordon Campbell has stated repeatedly that he is open to constructive feedback yet he continually ignores the warnings of health care professionals and patients who fear the government has gone too far." Stewart says. "By opening the door to wide-scale privatization, the Liberals have once again misled us about their true intentions."
* Backgrounder attached
January 27, 2002: The Liberal government passes the Health and Social Services Delivery Improvement Act allowing health authorities to privatize "non-clinical" health care services.
The legislation includes draft regulations that define those services considered to be "non-clinical".
February 4, 2002: HSA meets with Minister of Health Services, Colin Hansen to express concern that the government's definition of "non-clinical services" includes a number of professions that provide direct services to patients in hospitals (see below). The Minister promises to review the list.
February 13, 2002: The government advises HSA that the regulations have been approved, confirming that the services listed below are considered to be "non-clinical" and therefore, vulnerable to privatization.
SERVICES DEEMED "NON-CLINICAL" BY THE LIBERAL GOVERNMENT:
Â· Medical laboratory technologists
Â· Speech pathologists
Â· Counsellors (including counselling therapists, vocational counsellors, outreach/health educators, family support workers and genetics counsellors)
Â· Medical radiation technologists (including x-ray, MRI, mammography and CT)
Â· Radiation therapists
Â· Respiratory therapists
Â· Aquatic Therapists
Â· Art Therapists
Â· Child Life Specialists
Â· Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (also known as Ultrasound Technologist or Ultrasonographer)
Â· Electroneurophysiology Technologists (ENP)
Â· Exercise Therapists:
Â· Music Therapists
Â· Neuropsychological Technicians
Â· Nuclear Medicine Technologists
Â· Orthotic Technicians
Â· Physics Technicians
Â· Prosthetics Technicians
Â· Remedial Gymnasts
Â· Social Workers