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Meeting Thursday to address possible cuts at Northumberland Hills Hospital

Posted: November 2, 2015

(November 2, 2015)

By: Valerie MacDonald, Northumberland Radio

NORTHUMBERLAND – A meeting this week will address possible cuts at Northumberland Hills Hospital (NHH) and organize a Regional Day of Action concerning hospital funding in general for next week.

The meeting will be co-hosted by the Ontario Health Coalition (OHC) and the Northumberland Health Coalition (NHC) and is scheduled for Thursday.

It will take place at 7 p.m. in the Spoolon Room of the Cobourg Community Centre on D’Arcy Street, says OHC executive director Natalie Mehra.

The meeting is open and “we want people to come,” Mehra told Northumberland Today.

The 50-plus recommendations of the Hay Group’s operational review of the NHH have not yet been made public, although there is general information on the NHH and Central East Local Health Integration Network websites – but the OHC expects it will result in another round of cuts.

“We don’t know what they are,” Peggy Smith, co-chair of the NHC and CUPE Local 2626 spokesperson, said in an interview.

The summaries about the Hay Report address the need for more efficiencies but what really is not efficient is stable hospital funding, Smith said.

“Right now is the time to act,” states a notice about the Thursday meeting in Cobourg. “This fall the provincial government is drafting next year’s provincial budget, including the levels of hospital funding. It is vital that we mount enough public pressure to move them off of their plan for another several years of hospital cuts…. We must act while we have a chance of impacting their budget choices.”

The focus is not only to head off further hospital cuts but to restore previous services that were lost at the hospital, both Smith and Mehra said.

More information is promised at Thursday’s meeting in Cobourg, as well as the plan for the Regional Day of Action taking place Nov. 13 in Trenton.

“This is an opportunity to bring a strong message to our region’s senior MPP, Lou Rinaldi, in this constituency, asking him to bring it back to his caucus in the Liberal Government,” the notice reads. That message: “Ontarians insist that hospital cuts stop.”

The call for Thursday’s meeting came Monday, just before a media release about the status of the Hay Report from the Central East LHIN. The release states that the external operation review does “not recommend any change in the volume or types of services currently being provided at NHH.”

At the same time, however, the Central East LHIN staff summary of the Hay Report recommendations states that the recommendations relate to $600,000 in clinical efficiencies over two years, $2.5 million in operating defences including support services, plus $2.3 million in savings over four years through integration of services.

For more details of the Central East LHIN summary and reaction to what this might mean in the absence of the proposed Hospital Improvement Plan the NHH is to provide to the LHIN by next month, watch the Northumberland Today website, Facebook page and Wednesday’s newspaper.

valerie.macdonald@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/NT_vmacdonald

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