Provincial directs Ontario Health Department to find ‘efficiencies and savings’, Omicron looms

As Ontario’s hospitals looked down the barrel of another serious wave of COVID-19 in the fall of 2021, the Ford government was quietly instructing state medical bureaucrats to tighten their belts.

In a letter obtained by Global News, the government’s then-health minister, Christine Elliott, instructed Ontario Health, the state-owned agency responsible for health care administration in Ontario, to find “efficiencies and savings” in the system. .

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The power of attorney, signed by Elliott and sent on October 1, 2021, sets out the government’s expectations for agencies in 2022-2023.

“As part of the Ontario government, the agency is expected to be efficient and effective, and to act in the best interests of Ontarians by providing compensation for taxpayers,” Elliot said. said the letter.

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The letter then directs Ontario Health to “pursue opportunities for innovative practice” and “identify and pursue efficiencies and savings where appropriate, including those due to COVID-19.”

In less than two months, Omicron has been designated a variant of concern by the World Health Organization and has received new promises from Prime Minister Doug Ford to fight the latest wave of COVID-19.

In a December 17, 2021 news release, Ford said:

Faced with enormous demand, the government has begun to limit who is eligible for PCR testing, in line with directives given to the Ontario Department of Health.

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“I couldn’t believe it,” said NDP health commentator France Gelinas. “There was a prime minister who stood up every day[in parliament]and said, ‘We will spare no expense.’

Ontario Health CEO Matt Anderson speaks with Global News Queen’s Park Director Colin D’Mello about the state’s healthcare system.

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In a sit-down interview with Global News, the CEO of Ontario Health said the bureaucracy saved money after the government moved away from some pandemic policies, particularly “money spent on testing.”

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“The government has shifted its focus to rapid testing rather than PCR testing….Ontario Health runs the PCR network,” Anderson said.

“These are savings that are passed on to the government because we are no longer using that piece of infrastructure.”

As another example, Anderson provided examples of multiple surgical referral systems statewide that the government has funded to reduce wait times for surgeries during the pandemic.

“Over time, we hope to converge on one referral system,” says Anderson. “These things are likely going to be one, which could save costs.”

Click to play video: 'Global News speaks with Ontario Health CEO amid ER closures, privatization concerns'

Global News speaks with Ontario Health CEO amid ER closures, privatization concerns

Global News speaks with Ontario Health CEO amid ER closures, privatization concerns

Anderson revealed that Global News Ontario Health’s purpose is to find “efficiencies in patient care” and has “returned more than $500 million in savings” since its inception in 2019.

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“Ultimately, how the government will use the identified funds, our hope and belief is to reinvest it in other parts of the healthcare system,” Anderson said.

A Department of Health spokesperson said the Global News integration “redirects about $400 million each year to frontline patient care that the previous government wasted on redundant alerts and bureaucracy.”

“The Ontario Department of Health has a duty to ensure that this funding is used in a manner that maximizes the benefit to patient care, including finding efficiencies in large and complex systems where appropriate. ‘ said the spokesperson.

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The agency’s 2022-23 annual business plan includes examples of other efficiency improvements the agency plans to pursue.

One line in Ontario Health’s 2022-23 plan states, “We will streamline and streamline our digital assets and services when contracts expire or opportunities arise to optimize services, increase efficiency and ensure cost effectiveness. Integrate.”

Another official said the agency will seek “further integration” in the pursuit of efficiency.

It also said the agency will “assess digital and virtual solutions, programs and services to identify opportunities, innovative models and promising practices for improvement, expansion and diffusion.”

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The savings and efficiency orders were issued after the Ontario Office of Financial Accountability found that the Ford government spent $1.8 billion less than planned on health care last year.

The Ford government has disputed that figure, saying it’s at a point where it doesn’t tell the full picture.

However, Finance Minister Peter Bethrenfarby, who was repeatedly pressured by Global News in a press briefing, refused to say the budget for medical expenses had been spent in the past year.

And opposition parties are challenging the mandate to cut costs as hospitals in the state continue to be understaffed.

“We are in the middle of a pandemic and they are saying find efficiency, find savings,” says Gelinas. “When we were still counting deaths in long-term care, it was a low priority for the pandemic.”

Ontario Health was established in 2019 by the Ford Government as a Crown Super Agency designed to bring together various public health agencies, including Cancer Care Ontario, Health Quality Ontario, and the state’s 13 Local Health Integration Networks. rice field.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Provincial directs Ontario Health Department to find ‘efficiencies and savings’, Omicron looms

Source link Provincial directs Ontario Health Department to find ‘efficiencies and savings’, Omicron looms

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