November 1, 2004

Debbie Neufert
Media Relations, LHSC
519-685-8500, ext. 74772

Linda Whitmore
Communications & Public Affairs SJHC
519-646-6100, ext. 65294

London hospital boards will not support service cuts unless directed by the province

(LONDON, Ontario) - The Boards of London hospitals - London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) and St. Joseph's Health Care, London (SJHC) - will not support the current government-mandated budget submissions that were sent to the provincial health ministry October 29. London hospitals will not implement these plans unless directed by the province.

In order to save the equivalent of approximately $90 million (LHSC $53 million, SJHC $37 million) across both London hospitals by March 31, 2006, there will be significant impacts to access to care, quality of care and the hospital workforce. If the provincial government instructs London hospitals to implement the mandated balanced budget plans, the result will be a closure of 348 beds, including 243 acute care beds, along with additional rehabilitation, complex care, and specialized mental health care beds. The effect of those bed closures will be the elimination of 1,000 jobs across both organizations, including administration and front line staff.

"It is important to reinforce that there will be no changes to the levels of patient care in the immediate future because the submissions are only the first step, says SJHC Board Chair, Ruthe-Anne Conyngham. "It is now up to the province to review the impacts outlined in the plans. We will continue to work with the Ministry to find better solutions to sustain patient care, access and our current workforce. In the meantime, our volunteer boards want to inform and engage others - our staff, physicians and the community - to demonstrate our accountabilities to those we serve, as well as the government."

LHSC Board Chair, Jeff Low says, "We believe that this is not the right approach for our patients, nor the answer to truly building a sustainable health system. This is more than a London issue - it is a regional one. We believe greater efficiencies can still be found by looking at the system as a whole, not on a hospital-by-hospital basis."

Jeff Low also says, "Numerous independent reports, including a study completed last year in partnership with the provincial ministry of health, show that London hospitals are already leaders in operating efficiently and transforming health care through integration of services and programs. Examples include, innovations like the electronic patient records and filmless diagnostic imaging, as well as our many shared services."

Ruthe-Anne Conyngham says, "London hospitals are teaching hospitals that are helping to train the next generation of physicians, nurses and other health care professionals. In London alone, more than four thousand students are placed in our hospitals each year. London hospitals are also leading research centres that are advancing patient care by discovering new treatments. There is no question that if the government continues on its current course with hospitals, the ability of London hospitals to teach and sustain research will be jeopardized. These, too, are vital components of patient care."

LHSC Budget Fact Sheet

SJHC Budget Fact Sheet