Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU)

Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU)

September 17, 2015 06:00 ET

MEDIA ADVISORY: Are private surgery clinics safe? Are they cheaper than public hospitals? Not in the UK, says former health minister at London media conference Friday

LONDON, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Sept. 17, 2015) - Private surgery and procedure clinics are a "colossal and expensive failure" in the United Kingdom (UK) and Ontario should learn from the UK's "dismal experience and not expand their use," says Frank Dobson, a former UK health minister.

Dobson is in Ontario for a series of media conferences including one in London on Friday, September 18 at 10 a.m. at the Carling Heights Optimist Community Centre, 656 Elizabeth Street.

The Ontario government plans to expand the use of private specialty clinics to deliver procedures and surgeries now provided by local community hospitals. This model of care, says Dobson, is not working well in England where there is concern about care quality and where private clinics have walked away from surgery contracts, leaving thousands of patients in the lurch. Data shows, that each year in the UK nearly 6,000 patients are transferred to public hospitals following operations at private clinics that have gone wrong.

At Friday's London media conference, Dobson will elaborate on the UK's experience with private clinics that includes contract flipping and the outright collapse of one private facility in the riding Dobson represented (until the spring of 2015) as a sitting MP for 35 years.

This is Dobson's second visit to Ontario. When he was here in the spring of 2007 he cautioned the provincial government that embracing more private surgery and procedure clinics, is not good medicine for patients. Just a few months later (September 2007) the tragic death of a patient who bled to death undergoing liposuction surgery at a private clinic, brought the issues of patient safety and regulatory oversight of private clinic surgeries to the forefront. Dobson also revealed that UK private clinics cost more and were being paid 11 per cent more than public hospitals for the same type of surgeries.

Sponsored by the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU) the hospital division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), media conferences were held in Hamilton, Kitchener/Waterloo, Sudbury, North Bay, Ottawa, Kingston, Minden/Haliburton and Toronto.

Ontario's Auditor General reported in 2012 that more than 97 per cent of the private clinics operating in Ontario are private for-profit corporations. These clinics are independent facilities, subject to lower regulatory oversight and inspection and infection control standards than public hospitals, says OCHU regional vice-president Kevin Cook, who will join Dobson for the London media conference on September 18.

Contact Information

  • Stella Yeadon
    CUPE Communications