September 12, 2005

Tommasina Conte
London Health Sciences Centre
519-685-8500, ext. 77062
e-mail: Tommasina Conte

Linda Whitmore
St. Joseph's Health Care, London
519-646-6000, ext. 65294
e-mail: Linda Whitmore

London hospitals meet Ministry deadline for draft budget plan

(LONDON, Ontario) London Health Sciences Centre and St. Joseph's Healthcare, London, have met the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care's September 9 deadline for their draft Hospital Annual Planning Submissions (HAPS). HAPS is a new budget planning process introduced by the Ministry to enhance coordination and accountability in the health care system.

"The new approach holds many improvements that are welcomed by hospitals, but it also has its challenges," says Jim Flett, Integrated Executive Vice President of Corporate Services at both LHSC and St. Joseph's. "We are in transition from the previous budget system, dealing with cost pressures that exceed our funding allocations, and playing catch up to get our plans in place for the new system."

Budget planning for the London hospitals will cover both the current fiscal year that began on April 1, 2005 and ends on March 31, 2006, and the period from April 1, 2006 to March 31, 2007.

"The September 9, 2005, HAPS is a draft document that will serve as a starting point for the Ministry's budget planning process with hospitals," explains Flett. " It is important to note that these documents are a work in process. The London hospitals are still developing the documents and have not yet submitted them to our respective Boards of Directors for review or approval." Final plans are not expected until some time in October.

Over the coming weeks, the London hospitals will enter into a series of Ministry-led discussions to help finalize the submissions. The current draft HAPS documents identify potential savings and operational efficiencies that will help reduce the gap between cost pressures and funding, but do not detail the service reductions that may be ultimately required to balance the plans. The Province of Ontario's Commitment to the Future of Medicare Act, 2004, or "Bill 8," requires hospitals to balance their budgets or face penalties.

St. Joseph's Health Care, London is a major patient care, teaching and research centre with a distinguished legacy of service to London, Southwestern Ontario and the veterans of Canada. St. Joseph's five key role areas include acute/ambulatory care, rehabilitation, specialized mental health care, long-term care/veterans care/specialized geriatric care and complex care, including palliative care. Facilities and services including St. Joseph's Hospital, Parkwood Hospital, Mount Hope Centre for Long Term Care and Regional Mental Health Care London and St. Thomas are part of the St. Joseph's family. More than 400,000 patients annually receive care from close to 6,000 physicians and staff at St. Joseph's. St. Joseph's is affiliated with the University of Western Ontario.

London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) is one of Canada's largest acute-care teaching hospitals and is dedicated to excellence in patient care, teaching and research. LHSC has pioneered many national and international medical breakthroughs. Located in London, Ontario, LHSC encompasses three sites, South Street Hospital, University Hospital and Victoria Hospital; two family medical centres; and the London Regional Cancer Program. LHSC is the home of the Children's Hospital of Western Ontario and CSTAR (Canadian Surgical Technologies & Advanced Robotics). LHSC is affiliated with The University of Western Ontario. Physicians and staff at LHSC number close to 8,000 and together they provide care for more than 600,000 patients each year.

The Lawson Health Research Institute (Lawson) is the research arm of London Health Sciences Centre and St. Joseph's Health Care, London. Lawson is one of the largest hospital-based research institutes in Canada.