Concern about how taxpayer dollars being spent on hospitals

Dear editor,

I am responding to an article quoting Grant Hollett, VIHA interim project manager for the North Island Hospitals Project.

Dear editor,

I am responding to a newspaper article quoting Grant Hollett, VIHA interim project manager for the North Island Hospitals Project.

First, he claims as false my earlier published statements that the Public Private Partnership (P3) model proposed for the North Island hospitals is privatized health care.

Well, I say what people are objecting to is the privatization of all aspects of hospital financing, construction and operation as a means of enriching the shareholders of a handful of monopolies whose duty is to their shareholders and not the public.

Instead of the public bodies responsible to the people of B.C. — the Ministry of Health and health authorities — being in charge, all aspects of hospital care are being handed over.

This is privatization and it is not good for health care. It reduces the involvement of government to just funnelling public dollars to the corporations.

In health care, the private sector has now taken over, in most of B.C., food services; housekeeping; laundry, and entire seniors’ homes with ongoing initiatives in the works to further privatize the hospitals aspect of health care.

Hollett says that VIHA will “retain responsibility for all health care delivery in the new hospitals.”

What’s the problem? While “responsibility” may remain with VIHA, control will not.

Research into various contracted out services in P3 hospitals reveals many problems including poor wages; poor training; poor supervision; overwork, and serious lack of communication between medical staff employed by VIHA and staff employed by the various private companies contracted under a P3 model. The end result of this privatization of health care has in the past and will in the future compromise the delivery and quality of health care for hospital patients.

Hollett also claims that extensive analysis and evidence from other P3 projects in B.C. shows that P3s are a “greater value for taxpayers” (than the publicly built and operated hospital model) and “is the best option for making sure the project is completed on time and on budget.”

Independent local, national and international studies of P3 hospitals have revealed these P3s have cost millions of dollars more than public hospital projects. In the B.C. flagship Abbotsford P3 hospital, some statistics from 2005: $24.5 million spent on lawyers and consultants to negotiate all the P3 contracts and subcontracts involved … construction costs increased from $210 million to $335 million … annual operating lease for the P3 contractor doubled from $20 million to $41 million … and the Abbotsford hospital was opened long after the originally stated finish date.

The public is becoming increasingly concerned about how its taxpaying dollars are being spent by all levels of government as resource industry dollars (from mills, the forest industry, fishing and other industries) have shrunk.

North Island politicians and the budgets they control are being held up to a closer scrutiny by the public. These expenses and tax increases are peanuts compared to the millions in overruns, interest and profit making for the private companies that this P3 hospital project will generate.

These are dollars coming out of your pocket — from our regional hospital board’s 40-per-cent share of the total budget plus our portion of the provincial budget — dollars also not going to be spent on actual health care delivery for North Islanders.

Find out more about P3 hospitals at Citizens for Quality Health Care town hall meetings Sept. 26 at 7 p.m. at the Labour Centre Hall in Campbell River and Sept. 27 at 7:30 p.m. at the Florence Filberg Rotary Hall in Courtenay.

For more information, phone 250-338-4067.

Richard Hagensen,

Campbell River

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