London Hospital Faces Highest Rate of Overcrowding Due to Liberal Cuts

Queen’s Park, May 19, 2016 – London NDP MPPs Peggy Sattler (London West) and Teresa Armstrong (London-Fanshawe) said that new information released by the New Democrats shows evidence of overcrowding in many Ontario hospitals, with London Health Sciences’ University site having the longest period of time with overcrowding.

“London patients and families have been dealing with overcrowding longer than anyone else in Ontario, yet the Liberals refuse to even admit that hospital overcrowding is a problem in the province,” Armstrong said. “While Londoners are finding no room in their hospital, and patients are sleeping on floors in the ER, the Liberals keep cutting hospital services, laying off health care workers, and closing beds. It’s clear that health care is the silent crisis of the Wynne government.”

Documents obtained by New Democrats through Freedom of Information (FOI), show acute care beds are over 100 per cent capacity in hospitals across the province, significantly exceeding internationally recognized safe occupancy rates. At the London Health Sciences Centre’s University and Victoria sites, the FOI documents shows 10 consecutive quarters, or two-and-a half years, of occupancy exceeding 100 per cent for acute care and mental health beds.

“Premier Wynne and Deputy Premier Deb Matthews have long known about this problem in London and should have tackled it by protecting hospital services. Instead, the Deputy Premier refuses to acknowledge Liberal cuts to hospital budgets even while frontline health care workers are laid off and hospitals are closing beds,” Sattler said. “The cuts to Ontario’s hospitals must stop. Families in London need health care they can count on.”

Through a separate request, New Democrats also learned that the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, “does not have standards, guidelines, policies, or best-practices with respect to hospital bed occupancy as it relates to hospital operations.”

The Liberals have frozen hospital base operating budgets for four straight years, and since the 2016 Budget was released, Ontario hospitals have continued to announce new rounds of cuts and bed closures. On March 31, London Health Sciences stated that this year “marks the fifth consecutive year that funding does not offset inflationary pressures,” and announced plans to reduce staff hours by the equivalent of 64.5 full-time positions.

New Democrats are calling on the Liberal government to stop cutting hospital services, place a moratorium on any further nursing cuts, and ensure that hospital operating funding keeps up with inflation and population growth, while recognizing the unique challenges that smaller communities face.