Thursday, January 3, 2008

Health care and Ontario's arrogant, irresponsive Liberals

Dear Mr. Jim Bradley: You were quoted in the St. Catharines Standard (Jun.8, 2002) calling the provincial government in 1971 a "tired, irresponsive, arrogant Conservative government."

In 2008, it is becoming obvious that Ontario now has a stale, tired, irresponsive, arrogant Liberal government.

Please find below for your attention two health care essays, one of which was sent to you on Dec. 11, 2007, to which I am waiting for your reply, as I am to the other letters which I have sent to your attention. Unfortunately, the subject of today’s letter is a continuation of the same theme, that of Liberal health care duplicity:

Have you had a chance to read today’s (Jan.3, 2008) National Post report regarding the problems at the Brampton Civic Hospital? “Two patients have died and their families believe it was due to complications caused by long waits for care,” the Post wrote, noting Health Minister George Smitherman called the two deaths “unacceptable”.

Isn’t it also 'unacceptable' that the Liberals have outlawed Ontario patients from having any other health services to turn to BUT the Liberal health care monopoly – which suddenly Smitherman finds delivers “unacceptable’ results?

The report tells of another woman who, after a Dec. 25, 2007 fall, was operated on the wrong leg at the Brampton hospital. Reports were already surfacing Dec. 10, 2007, that there were problems with staff and service levels at this newly built hospital facility, so well trumpeted by the Liberals.

If Brampton is any example, patients and taxpayers can only dread what’s in store with the hospital planned for St. Catharines. Recently, high mortality rates were found in the Niagara Health System, and you didn’t even think that was worthy of an immediate inquiry? Did you not find these results within your Liberal government’s health system ‘unacceptable’? Or was just ‘routine stuff’?

Mr. Bradley, will you immediately call for the Ombudsman to investigate the systemic problems plaguing Ontario’s health monopoly, including those problems arising from your government’s complicit role in denying patients alternative choices to your government’s single–payer system?


"Jim Bradley and the entropy of Ontario’s health care"

Here’s a story by James Wallace, “Troubling mortality rates in Ontario hospitals, St. Catharines General among highest mortality rates in the province”, (St. Catharines Standard, Dec.1, 2007): “Take any two patients with similar conditions and complications and separate them by geography.One in Ontario, one in Alberta.Which one is most likely to die in hospital?A new national review of Canadian hospitals published this week by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) provides a discouraging answer - the Ontario patient.You are also generally more likely to die in a hospital here than in Saskatchewan, British Columbia or New Brunswick.In fact, hospital mortality rates in this province, at best, are run-of-the-mill."Ontario is pretty average, that's the message I see," Dr. Ross Baker, a leading researcher on patient safety, said after reviewing the CIHI report.This despite the fact that Ontario's health-care spending hovers near $38 billion this year (or 46 cents of every dollar it spends) and dwarfs health-care spending by most other provinces outside of Quebec.Our average performance comes despite a 30 per cent increase in health-care spending by Ontario's Liberal government since 2003 and a boost in direct hospital funding of $2.7 billion to $17.5 billion over that same time.Nationally, the study found considerable variation in mortality rates not only between hospitals but among provinces.This is cause for concern.CIHI spent two years refining the statistical measuring tool it used to create an apples-to-apples comparison among Canadian hospitals.The "hospital standardized mortality ratio," or HSMR, is not a perfect measuring tool but broadly compares the actual number of deaths in individual hospitals and regions to expected and national numbers.An HSMR ratio of 100 is equal to the national average.The study found the lowest mortality ratios in Saskatchewan (which had regional ratios as low as 69) and the western provinces (along with New Brunswick). The highest regional ratios at 121 were in the Maritimes.Put another way, mortality rates for patients in Newfoundland were 21 per cent higher than the national average and 52 per cent higher than for Saskatchewan patients.In Ontario, there was considerable variation among individual hospitals and regions.Hospitals in northwestern Ontario had a ratio of 85 and showed reduced fatalities during the past three years.The Erie St. Clair health region, including Sarnia and Chatham, was more typical with a ratio of 102 and saw an increase in death rates.The ratio in southwestern Ontario was 105, it was 101 in Waterloo Region, including Cambridge, ranged between 97 and 102 in and around Toronto, 108 in the Central East (including Peterborough and some of the Greater Toronto Area's east end), a point under 100 in the Kingston, Belleville and South East region, 90 in Cornwall and surrounding areas, about the same in Collingwood and North Simcoe and 93 in northeastern Ontario including North Bay, Sudbury, Timmins and the Sault.Ratios for individual hospitals, however, varied greatly.At the high end, Kitchener's Grand River hospital had a ratio of 142; the Niagara Health System's St. Catharines General site was 135; the Scarborough Hospital general site 134 and the London Health Sciences Centre at 112.Again, the numbers mean mortality rates at the St. Catharines hospital, for example, are 35 per cent higher than the national average.Among the best were Hamilton's Health Science's facility with a mortality ratio of 84, Sault area hospitals at 86 and Sudbury Regional Hospital at 88.By way of comparison, the Moncton Hospital in New Brunswick had a ratio of 56. The CIHI study revealed other interesting facts on death and hospitals - the odds of a man dying in hospital is nine per cent higher than for a woman. You are more likely to die in hospital if you are an emergency patient, if you are transferred from another hospital, if you are in hospital for more than nine days or suffer from chronic conditions. More than a quarter-million Canadians died in hospital between April 2004 and March 2007. And the most common causes of death in hospital include respiratory failure, infection (septicaemia), lung cancer, heart attack and disease, pneumonia, stroke and hip fractures. We are not, however, doing a good enough job of preventing needless deaths by reducing medical errors, prescription mistakes, adopting best care practices and other measures to lower patient death rates closer to levels achieved by the best hospitals in this country, the study suggests. That's particularly the case in Ontario." Hopefully the report will spark some investigation into disparity among Canadian hospitals," Baker said. "There is a general trend toward improved quality and safety." But I don't think we should be satisfied with a general trend." "


Liberal MPP Jim Bradley has some explaining to do, doesn't he? Remember how his Liberal 's so-called Commitment to the Future of Medicare act was supposed to solve all of Ontario's healthcare problems? Well, St. Catharines General, the major hospital in all of Niagara Region, the main hospital in Jim Bradley's own riding , is among the worst in Ontario for mortality rates. Will Jim Bradley blame others for this shameful healthcare performance in his own riding, or will he admit his own authoritarian health policies are failing? Jim Bradley is quiet about these results. No loud rhetoric and puffery being decanted from Jim Bradley on this, yet another, oh-so-proud, stellar Liberal healthcare achievement. Jim Bradley and his entrenched left-wing liberal beliefs have guided St. Catharines, and Ontario, to healthcare entropy. Remember all the healthcare debate and discussion Jim Bradley engaged in prior to the Oct. 2007 election? Neither do I, because there was none. Bradley pretended all was well with healthcare. He briefly mentioned that his Liberals socialized some diagnostic clinics and well, here we are ! All's good! (Was he refering to the MRI clinics which McGuinty and Co. nationalized, for no good reason, in 2004?) When we voted, did we know Bradley was running the Dead Zone hospital system? And, the worst thing is, there is absolutely NO OTHER CHOICE AVAILABLE to us. There is nowhere to turn to BUT the Bradley/Smitherman/McGuinty Liberal death-trap monopoly health system. Patients in Niagara have no other private parallel system to turn to when in need and when Bradley's government fails to deliver. Take it, or leave it, say the Liberals, like they have said to many Ontarians in the past, including Suzanne Aucoin (at whose memorial service Jim Bradley had the shameless audacity to speak). This report is a ringing endorsement, yet again, of the failures of no-choice, non-competitive, government-run health care. Will this report 'spark investigations'? Yeah, sure. It'll be buried and dismissed by the Liberals. Or, will St. Cathariners proudly sit back, put on their blinders, and say, 'well now, we elected good ol' Jim Bradley here, and we're satisfied with what he's done. We're not exactly sure what he actually has done, but we're supporting him doing more of it. Jim's got nothing to do with all these problems...why, Jim's here to fix them for us - he's been fixin' 'em for thirty years' ! It looks likely that four more years of suffering and death is in store for Ontarians under Bradley's and the rest of the Liberals ideological healthcare haze.


Wallace writes that healthcare spending in Ontario is at 46% of all government spending . During the televised leaders' debate (Sept. 20, 2007) McGuinty said health spending was half of our budget. Was McGuinty already fudging figures on his costliest ministry? A 4% variance on some 38 billion tax-payer dollars is nothing to take lightly. By the results we're seeing, is that tax-money being well utilized by the government, or should patients have more control of how and where we spend our own taxed health-dollars?


Ontario Liberals can’t measure hospital capacity

To Jim Bradley, M.P.P., St. Catharines: Today (Dec.11, 2007) the Toronto Sun reported: “The 2007 auditor general's report has been tabled at Queens Park, casting light on disturbing revelations about driver education.Information mismanagement has also being blamed for poor service on GO trains. GO Train delays can be blamed on poor economic forecasting by the crown organization." Both the overcrowding and the delays in service have gotten worse over the years," Auditor General Jim McCarter said.” Well, Mr. Bradley…this is an excellent time to stand up and rail in the legislature, with the utmost fury, at all the inequities and failures in the GO Transit and driver’s education systems, obviously caused by the previous government over the last four years…oh, wait, that would be your own government. Also, Mr. Bradley: where did your government spend $9 million (CHCH News, Dec.11, 2007) that was supposedly meant for the problem-plagued sex-offender registry? During the election campaign, barely two months ago, you downplayed that there were problems in your Liberal health-care monopoly. But, as Jordana Huber reported (Can West, Dec.11, 2007): “The auditor general also said the lack of specific information on the number and hours of use of operating rooms made it difficult todetermine whether there is enough hospital capacity to meet the surgical needs of Ontarians”. This is astounding. Mr. Bradley, why do the needs of patients come second in your system? How is it possible that Liberals have no measurements to determine the surgical capacity of your health monopoly? Why did Dalton McGuinty, then, claim he 'needed' the billions in health taxes your Liberals have raked in since 2004? Can your government explain on what basis you were raising taxes, if your Liberals had no idea of your system's efficiency and capacity? Or, will your Liberal government say: why should we bother to find out how efficient our monopoly is – it's a monopoly! We have no competition and need not worry about costs, or sustainability, or even service, for that matter. So, get in line, wait, and be quiet! Is this what happens when Liberal politicians, who despise the American health system, control the destiny of our health monopoly?The American system has all these administrative costs that Liberals smugly laugh at, but also has the capacity available to accept Ontario patients…capacity which the Liberals, through administrative neglect, have failed to quantify, let alone provide, in Ontario. During the recent election, the McGuinty Liberals bragged about the 100 hospitals they were building all over Ontario. Where are they? St. Catharines hasn’t seen a new hospital, tellingly, since the 1960s, since socialization became the norm in Ontario. The Toronto Sun (Dec. 10, 2007) wrote in “Sick of poor health care” of one Liberal botched hospital-building escapade: in Brampton, Ontario, 1,000 residents marched to protest that their new hospital opened not only under-staffed, but with under-trained staff as well, reporting “patients wait up to 12 hours in the emergency room only to deal with understaffed and insensitive health care workers”. "Insensitive", eh? Why, isn’t this simply a systemic reflection of the Liberal’s own insensitive health monopoly…you know, the one that was referred to as a “cruel game” by Ontario’s ombudsman? (A 12-hour wait..and that's in a new Liberal hospital! It's best not to let Sicko director Michael Moore hear of this. His film mythologized Ontario's single-payer health-care Utopia, where patients are cheerfully seen within minutes in ER!)The Toronto Sun (Dec.11, 2007) reported:“A supervisor will be appointed at Brampton Civic Hospital in the wake of a protest by residents over conditions at the new facility. More than 1,000 Brampton residents took to the streets Sunday, claiming patients wait up to 12 hours in the emergency department before receiving care. They called on the province to hire more staff, cut wait times, open more beds and re-open Peel Memorial Hospital. A spokesman for Health Minister George Smitherman said yesterday the supervisor "will establish a greater presence on the part of the government to ensure that the quality of care given to patients is of a high standard."”So now, this government–run botch–job will be run by more government bureaucrats? The Liberals didn’t already have enough “presence” in this hospital they were building? The Liberals didn’t already “ensure that the quality of care given to patients is of a high standard”? Were the Liberals planning their health policy by the seat of their pants?? Were the Liberals skimping on the management of building this – and the other supposed 99 – hospitals? One wonders where the Liberal’s accountability lies. What exactly is your Liberal government's specific definition of "a high standard" of patient care? Is the McCreith/Holmes charter challenge in Ontario reflective of your Liberal high standards? There was no talk during the last campaign about wait times and staff shortages and bed shortages…your party dismissed these symptoms of your authoritarian health monopoly’s failures.Mr. Bradley, did you have a chance to read Michael Coren's article in the Toronto Sun (Dec.8, 2007), "Two-tier trauma"? I would be interested to hear your comments.Mr. Bradley, will you stand up in the house and demand that your Liberal’s restrictive Commitment to the Future of Medicare act be phased out and abolished? We are looking at the future, which you and your Liberals have created, right here; and to me, the answer is not more socialized health-care.

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