Published: Thu, February 28, 2019
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

Sweeping changes on the way to health-care system in Ontario

Sweeping changes on the way to health-care system in Ontario

On Tuesday, Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott announced the dissolution of Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs), and the consolidation of a number of provincial health agencies into a central organization called Ontario Health to oversee the new system.

The centrepiece of the plan that Health Minister Christine Elliott unveiled on Tuesday is the creation of between 30 and 50 "Ontario health teams" that would each be responsible for the well-being of as many as 300,000 patients.

"This risky Ford government reboot of our public health system must be stopped before patient care and safety fall victim to the gaps, holes and pitfalls this massive overhaul will create, " said CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn. "Home care continues as before an there are no changes to long-term care home placement", a statement on the North East Local Health Integration Network website reads.

Under the plan, a new agency will combine Ontario's 14 regional health care administrations, Cancer Care Ontario, Health Quality Ontario and Trillium Gift of Life Network and three other agencies and put health care providers in the driver's seat when it comes to organizing and delivering services in their area.

The proposed law will do away with 14 local health integration networks (LHINS), which now oversee home care and manage nursing home waiting lists, and absorb the functions of six existing agencies.

Elliot stated patients will still choose who provides their care and more choices will be available through technology - such as offering patients access to electronic health records and providing virtual care options.

The new patient-centric approach is paired with new investments in long-term care for seniors and improved mental health and addiction services. The Ontario Health Teams will be "measured against how well they take care of their patients".

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The Ontario Health Coalition said it would fight any attempt to privatize the public non-profit health services, while the Canadian Union of Public Employees said it will begin escalating actions across the province to push the government to reconsider the changes.

"The announcement does what I've been asking government for for a long time, which is don't tell us how to do to something that you don't know how to do, which is deliver care", Dr. Smith said. "Our work will continue and is essential to the long-term sustainability of the health care system", Oglaza said. The statement added hospitals "are encouraged by the prospect of working more closely with partners in their communities to find local solutions to better meet patient needs" which could release "untapped potential" in the system. People do not need to fear. "The fact is that the value of our health care system is locked in silos". These teams would support continuous access to care and smooth transitions as patients move between one provider to another, and receive care in different locations or health care settings. Speaking after the same meeting, Egberts said the OHA report helped "to make the case for why hospitals need continued surge funding and why we need to have inflationary funding returned on a regular basis now, because we went many years without it".

"The money can follow the patients", said one official, who like each of those speaking at the briefing did so on the condition of anonymity."It's been a case of right dollar, wrong pocket".

Singh also said she hopes the government has revised its plan.

Ms. Elliott, who rebuffed repeated questions about layoffs, said that care co-ordinators would not lose their jobs. "I think they believe they have a better way", Huras said.

There was no word on job cuts, but talk is of "understanding the assets in the system" and making decisions that best serve the agency, including on the level of staffing it needs.

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