Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Mess in the NHS

In "Secretive Liberals hide from C. Diff accountability" I asked how Ontarians can force an arrogant Liberal Government to be held responsible for its healthcare monopoly, and whether indicting the government or its MPP’s or ministers is the ultimate way to obtain answers and accountability.

For example, Liberal St. Catharines MPP Jim Bradley refuses to reveal why the hospital in his own city was found in a Nov. 2007 CIHI study to have the third highest mortality rate in Canada. (See: Jim Bradley and the entropy of Ontario's health care; see: Ontario's 'medicare' promises fulfilled by U.S. health-system)

Jim Bradley didn’t bother to answer my requests to provide an explanation of the reasons this has occurred under his Liberal nose in his own backyard. (See: Health care and Ontario's arrogant, irresponsive Liberals). Jim Bradley couldn’t even be bothered to call for or support initiating any inquiries into the matter. (See: Liberals ignore call for health-monopoly investigation). Jim Bradley ignored requests to allow Ontario’s Ombudsman legal authority to examine the Liberal’s hospital monopoly. (see: Liberals hide like cockroaches from Ombudsman's light). St. Catharines Stealth Minister, the elusive Jim Bradley, sat silent on these matters. No quotes or explanations are to be found in any local newspaper from Good Ole Jimmy B regarding his failing Liberal single-payer health monopoly.

At least in the C. Diff situation in Burlington, Ont., a class action lawsuit is being launched against the local hospital. The Welland Tribune (June 11, 2008) reported in “Judge must certify suit as a class action: Families file suit against Burlington hospital over outbreak of C. difficile”:

“Families whose loved ones died after contracting C. difficile - and one patient who says leaving hospital saved her life - have filed a $50-million lawsuit against Joseph Brant Memorial in Burlington.
There was no comment Wednesday from the hospital, where 91 patients infected with C. difficile died in a 20-month outbreak.
Experts say the hard-to-control bacterium caused or played a clear part in 62 of the deaths and contributed to 14 others.
The case is guided by Hamilton lawyer Stanley Tick, a lead counsel in the Walkerton tainted-water suit, and Harvey Strosberg, whose cases include the hepatitis C class action against Ottawa, which resulted in a $1.1-billion settlement.
The suit, filed Wednesday, claims the C. difficile outbreak was preventable and that Joseph Brant was negligent in the way it cleaned, maintained and disinfected the hospital.
The allegations made in the statement of claim have not been proven in court.
The proposed suit must be certified by a judge as a class action before it can go forward.
The suit asks for an additional $5 million in punitive, special and other damages in an action that Tick says is partly motivated by the families' wish never to see a repeat of what happened at the hospital.
The suit alleges Joseph Brant failed to recognize there was an outbreak and did not take reasonable steps to control C. difficile when it hit in 2006 and 2007.
Pat O'Sullivan, one of the claimants, has told the story publicly of how she entered Joseph Brant for knee surgery and caught C. difficile .
O'Sullivan believes she survived only because she checked herself out of hospital.
The husband of plaintiff Dorothy Elliott entered hospital for knee replacement, caught C. difficile and died of complications from the bug.
Jack Elliott was 79, one year younger than the average age of 80 for those who died over the 20 months.”

This kind of last-resort legal action will certainly become more prevalent as victimized patients face the Liberal’s failing, non-competitive, no-choice health monopoly. (See: Courts are a patient's last line of defence against Ontario's universal health-care demagogues) McGuinty’s Ontario Liberals smugly – if not negligently - ignored Quebec’s Chaoulli decision, pretending that Ontario’s health monopoly was somehow beyond reproach. This Brant lawsuit, and the previously-launched McCreith/Holmes constitutional challenge against McGuinty’s health monopoly, show the dangerous extremes to which Liberals have gone to propagate their health monopoly, even if it means putting patient/captives at unnecessary risk. The question is, will former Health Minister George Smitherman be made to testify as to what he and his Liberal ministry knew and did regarding the C. Diff outbreak for all of Ontario, and for Joeseph Brant hospital in particular? Or, will the Brant hospital managers or staff be hung out to dry on this one, while the Liberal government walks away smelling of roses?

On July 16, 2008 the Niagara Health System unveiled a massive proposal to centralize services by closing and restructuring its facilities in a move to supposedly rationalize its expenses; or, in other words, to keep itself out of a Liberal-government-monopoly-budget-funded, artificially-created deficit – which is itself astounding, since the Liberals created a new Health Tax (See: Dalton's deceptive health-care-tax ) in 2004 supposedly to avoid this very situation ... so, where has that tax-money gone? The Liberal-enforced monopoly prevents people paying for their own health care, thereby leaving patients hostage to the budgetary whims of an unaccountable health system controlled by an unaccountable government.

Of course, Liberal Stealth Minister Jim Bradley sits silent on this now, as well. We should remember (See: Liberal Jim Bradley's health-care fear-mongering and bombast: disheartening and predictable; or better yet, see: "My husband died while waiting for medical care", voter tells Liberal Jim Bradley) how a pompous, outraged Bradley blustered and huffed about alleged Conservative health care cuts in opposition – now, Jimmy’s own Liberals (under cover of the Liberal-created LHIN, naturally) will be doing the closing, the consolidating, the restructuring, the rationalization, the cutting (see:"Smitherman's a frickin' jerk" reader says) – because, hey, folks – you gave Jim and Kim and Dalton a majority government !!

So now, the Grits can do whatever they want, and now, Good Ole Jim has all but vanished from the health care scene! After all, as I wrote in "Collectivized health care is the problem", Bradley and his Liberals “are the problem today, and always were. We can't count on Jim Bradley to champion reforms against the failing monopoly system which he advocated and helped prop up. Looks like Bradley and his Liberals will let the courts decide and do their job for them. The Liberal's political will to run roughshod over patients with their health monopoly is inexcusable, if not outright negligent. The Liberals are more interested in power than patients.” (See also: Can Jim Bradley explain why he "stood up and said 'I hate doctors'"?)

Our other local Liberal, MPP Kim Craitor (See: Pat on the back, or kick in the butt?) from Niagara Falls, said he isn’t going to comment on the direction that the NHS should be taking! True Liberal leadership! Yet in "Sadistic Liberal health-care in Ontario", Craitor was publicly pontificating decentralizing the NHS!

Now, the Niagara Falls Review (July 21, 2008) wrote this comment about Craitor in “Brick to Craitor for missing opportunity to lead on NHS issue”:

“Brick: To Niagara Falls MPP Kim Craitor, who last week refused to speak publicly
about the Niagara Health System's Hospital Improvement plan that will see the maternity ward close at Greater Niagara General Hospital along with the emergency and operating rooms at Douglas Memorial Hospital in Fort Erie.
"My answer is simply this is just the first step. What I don't want to do and what I will not do is get into a discussion of the NHS plan," Craitor said.
This coming from the man who during the last provincial vote tried to make significant electoral hay at the expense of the NHS by calling for it to be broken up. This coming from the man who has spent a great deal of time over the past few weeks loudly demanding the Ministry of Health conduct a review of the NHS.
And now that the NHS has delivered its proposal - a proposal that came about in no small part due to Craitor's criticism - he has wimped out.
Yes, it's his job to represent the interests of his constituents. But it's also his job to lead. It's his duty to lead. How does he do that without telling us what he thinks?
He can't. And with this less-than-transparent approach, he has let everyone down.
This is one of the most blatant acts of political abdication we have witnessed in a very long time.”

Yet - if Craitor has blatantly committed an act of "political abdication", then WHAT ABOUT GOOD OLE JIM BRADLEY ?!

Bradley has said LESS THAN CRAITOR regarding Niagara's health care!!

Bradley has said practically NOTHING AT ALL on this issue!! If Craitor “wimped out”, then in comparison, Good Ole Jim Bradley has become a useless deadbeat on the issue!

Bradley has also "let everyone down".

Bradley has vacated his "duty to lead" as well.

Bradley also hides from "telling us what he thinks". Neither the press, nor constituents, have been blessed by blustery Bradley health-care proclamations. Jimmy's just gone and disappeared.

Even during the Oct. 2007 election campaign, Good Ole Jim Bradley said nothing about the systemic problems within his government-run health monopoly here in Niagara. Jim Bradley said nothing about the impending closures which his government must have known about - and if they didn’t know about these problems in Oct. of 2007, why didn’t they know? Leading up to the election, there were many stories in The St. Catharines Standard and Niagara This Week highlighting all kinds of various aspects of Niagara’s health-system inadequacies. So, of course, the Liberals, and Jim Bradley, knew – they just ignored it. (see: Another wait time death). Acknowledging the on-going failure of their health system is something Liberals didn’t want to trumpet during an election.

Jim Bradley pretended that everything was fine in Niagara's health system – Jim blabbed something about MRI’s at Sunnybrook (in Toronto!) once or twice at the all-candidate’s debates, and that was about it! (see: Liberal Jim Bradley: tired and uninspired during debate).

John Robbins reported in “Health minister urged to look at hospital funding before adopting NHS changes”, (St. Catharines Standard, July 24, 2008):

“Ontario's health minister should relegate the Niagara Health System's hospital improvement plan to the "recycling bin," says Niagara West-Glanbrook Conservative MPP Tim Hudak.
Instead, the government should examine whether Niagara's current hospital services are being adequately funded.”

[Let’s remember that former health minister Smitherman said back in Dec.7, 2007, in the St. Catharines Standard: that there is free-for-all spending occurring in the NHS!!

See: Liberals claim medicare is a "free-for-all": so they cut hospital beds and nurses!;
See: Liberal health-care: once, free for all; now, a free-for-all ;
See: Liberals ignore call for health-monopoly investigation;

Or, see: Hospital death-rate in Liberal Jim Bradley's St. Catharines: third-worst in Canada, where I wrote:

"The Toronto Star reported Jan.7, 2008, that Smitherman, talking of Brampton , "dismisses bids to link patient care troubles to funding model". Yet in Niagara, exactly a month ago, the St. Catharines Standard (Dec. 7, 2007) reported "Laurel Ostfield, a spokeswoman for Smitherman, said the spectre of a review of operations at the NHS isn't a direct response to high death rates at St. Catharines General Hospital, which made national headlines last week."
So: 'patient care troubles' are not related to funding - at least in Brampton, and as already predetermined by the person running the system, Smitherman! Are we just supposed to take this Liberal's word that this is true?!
And, what about the 'patient care troubles' in St. Catharines?
There, Smitherman's staff were also denying any link between the CIHI report and the subsequent Liberal NHS 'organizational review' .
You would think that the Liberals would show concern about the high death rates and launch, not a simple organizational review, but a full-fledged inquiry.
But no, in St. Catharines they didn't even acknowledge any link between the 'funding model' , the high death rates, and their so-called review. The Liberals also ignored that "The NHS has consistently maintained it doesn't receive enough funding from the provincial government to properly care for a population with a large mix of seniors and residents on the lower end of the socio-economic scale. "If a review brings in the results we need to get the funding we need, then we're all for it," [Betty-Lou Souter, chairwoman of the health system's board of trustees] said. "The bottom line is, we need to have more money to carry out the programs we're doing."" (St. Catharines Standard, Dec.7, 2007)
So why doesn't Jim Bradley explain why his Liberals are not sufficiently funding the health monopoly which they cherish so? Where's the money?"

Yes - it was Liberal health minister Smitherman who intimated that the NHS were simply spendthrifts who needed to live within their (Liberal-given) means! So now, the Liberal-run health ministry and the Liberal-created LHIN will be playing their assigned Good-cop/Bad-cop roles with Niagara's healthcare.]

Robbins story continues:

""The buck stops at the desk of the health minister," Hudak told Osprey News. "We have a new minister, who is not the one who initiated this process. His first step should be to evaluate whether funding for Niagara's hospital services is appropriate ... before contemplating any kind of service reductions."
The NHS plan, in a bid to cut its $17.9- million deficit and boost patient care, calls for several changes, including:
Closing the emergency department at Douglas Memorial Hospital in Fort Erie, and redeveloping the hospital as a community health centre and a slow-paced recovery and rehabilitation centre for people with complex needs.
Closing the ER at Port Colborne General Hospital and turning facility into a community health centre.
Closing the maternity units at Greater Niagara General Hospital and Welland County General Hospital in favour of creating a state-of-the-art, centralized unit at a new hospital in St. Catharines. Several types of surgical services would be centralized at GNGH if the plan is ultimately approved. "

[Closings galore, and cuts to emergency room hours to boot! Where will patients in need go when the emergency is closed? How will they get elsewhere? Will they be put at greater risk? Why isn't Michael Sicko Moore blabbing about this austere aspect of his beloved universal, single-payer government-run health-care system?!]

"Hudak said the plan isn't what most Niagara citizens expected to see, nor is it the type of health care the Liberals promised to deliver during the last election.
"It was just nine months ago that we were in the midst of a provincial election campaign and no word of the possibility of closing down the ER in Fort Erie or Port Colborne was ever breathed by Premier (Dalton) McGuinty, his health minister or any of our local Liberal candidates. It's somewhat dishonest that that was not brought out as something for people to know about when they were casting their votes," said Hudak.
Niagara Falls Liberal MPP Kim Craitor, who had pushed for a review of hospital operations since last fall, said the plan put forward for public comment is the NHS's plan -- not the government's.
Craitor said no matter what anyone thinks of the proposals, it's the first time since the health system's creation in the late 1990s the hospital board has been forced to make its long-term plans public.
Dr. Bill Shragge, the health system's chief of staff, said the NHS looks forward to public input and a review of its plan by the Local Health Integration Network that oversees Niagara hospitals.
However, maintaining the status quo isn't an option anymore.”"

[You want to know what exactly is meant by the phrase “status quo” here in Niagara when it comes to health-care??
See: Ontario's broken health system cure: a big box of Band-Aids;
See: High patient death rates deserve only "routine" Liberal review;
See: Can McGuinty's Liberals be held negligently liable for the suffering of Ontario patients? ]

""I haven't seen Mr. Hudak's comments, but I can tell you, the present scenarios are not
sustainable. They're not optimal," Shragge said.

"Frankly, many, many of the drivers that led to this vision by the health professionals, the doctors, the nursing staff relate very much to a human-resources crisis in terms of lack of staff. The number of vacancies we have in the system, we don't have staff to fill the vacancies."

[And yet, for example, when it came to nursing home staff shortages, health ministry spokesman Mark Nesbitt said staff shortages were not an issue, (St. Catharines Standard, July 3, 2008)]

There seem to be a lot of discrepancies as to why this review is even taking place; and how answers can be positioned to not reflect poorly on the Liberals. Remember, Jim Bradley had at the beginning simply fluffed off this NHS review as just typically "routine stuff", (Dec.7, 2007, St. Catharines Standard). Jim Bradley had no concerns about the 'status quo': the hospital in his own St. Catharines riding had the third-highest patient mortality rate in Canada, and yet Bradley didn't even bother to call for an investigation.

This Liberal MPP is flicking pathetic.

It's time people begin not only to review, but to condemn - not only the mess in the NHS, but also the underlying legislation which enables it, namely Dalton McGuinty's failing Liberal "Commitment to the Future of Medicare Act".

If patient-payer choice continues to be outlawed by monopoly-minded Liberals, then this NHS 'restructuring/review' will amount to little more than a pointless exercise of rearranging the Titanic's deck chairs.

Regrettably, no mainstream Ontario politician, be it NDP, Conservative, or Liberal, is willing to chart the course towards a pro-active, realistic private-parallel health system.

Rather, they all seemingly will wait for the courts to make the decision for them - forcing patients to suffer the consequences of the politicians' ideological addiction to single-tier health-care.
Fast forward from today's post to the month of July, 2011, and read some of the thirty+ posts that I wrote about the killer C. difficile outbreak which gripped Niagara three years later, which began shrouded in secrecy in mid-May 2011: the same Liberal scumbag secrecy that I was writing about here in 2008, was STILL there in 2011; there were more patients dead, and more secretive Liberal monopolists scurrying around, still pretending they had nothing to do with it.
This longstanding arc of Ontario Liberal political health-care negligence is sickening.

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