Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives raises alarm about B.C. proposal to contract more surgeries to private clinics

    1 of 1 2 of 1

      A left-leaning think tank worries about the implications of a proposal to amend the Hospital Act. 

      In a new 56-page publication, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives warns about potential consequences of a B.C. government proposal to contract in-patient surgeries to private clinics.

      "The international evidence shows that increased private delivery of health care is more expensive and less safe, and will destabilize the public health-care system," lead author Andrew Longhurst said in a Canadian Centre for Policy Alteratives news release.

      It comes after the release of a B.C. government paper, Future Directions for Surgical Services in British Columbia. It noted that there were 541,886 publicly funded surgical procedures in the 2013-14 fiscal year. Of those, 78 percent were day procedures.

      There were a reported 5,503 publicly funded procedures in private facilities in 2013-14.

      Currently, only publicly funded day surgeries can be done in private clinics. The government paper says changes to the Hospital Act would enable these publicly funded procedures to occur in private facilities for stays of up to three days.

      The CCPA report, however, states that private for-profit health delivery is "more expensive".

      "This is a result of higher administrative costs, the requirement to return profits to investors, and additional costs associated with creating and enforcing regulations for private providers," the report states.

      It also claims that private for-profit delivery of surgical services "destabilizes the public system", opening the door for U.S. hospital chains to gain a foothold in B.C.

      The CCPA points to Scotland as a model where wait times and health outcomes have improved through innovations in the public health-care system.

      According to the CCPA report, only 47 percent of knee-replacement surgeries occur within the first 26 weeks of booking in B.C. In Saskatchewan, where a four-year program has reduced wait times, 99 percent of patients receive knee replacements within 26 weeks of the booking time.