Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Surgery privatization scandal?

Data show fewer surgeries in health region: Government and health region need to explain what happened

October 4, 2011

The Saskatchewan government and Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region need to explain why there were nearly 600 fewer surgical procedures performed in the health region in the 10-month period after the government contracted out surgeries to a private-for-profit clinic.

“Both the government and health region claimed privatizing surgeries would ‘ramp up’ capacity and increase the overall volume of surgeries in the region, but that’s not what happened,” says Gordon Campbell, President of the CUPE Health Care Council. “New data analyzed by CUPE show contracting out surgeries has harmed surgical capacity.”

The most recent stats available shows the health region performed 596 fewer surgical procedures in the 10 months after the government contracted out surgeries to Omni Surgical Centre. The health region performed a total of 18,588 surgeries between October 2010 and July 1, 2011, down from the 19,184 surgeries performed over the same period the year before.

“The government’s decision to contract out surgeries is a public policy flop,” says Campbell. “It has not improved surgical capacity or patient care.”

Health Minister McMorris and the health region need to explain why they continue to waste money on for-profit clinics instead of investing in the long-promised public day surgical centre in Regina, Campbell says.
The Wall government cancelled plans to build the public day surgery centre in Regina in 2009, preferring to invest scarce health care dollars in for-profit clinics. About 60 per cent of the surgical patients in Regina require day surgeries.


  1. Why build a public surgery clinic at public expense when the private sector will do it for you?

  2. Nice that you include the total number of surgeries performed, not just the ortho and pediatric dental surgeries that the Omni Centre does...

  3. unclemeat: Because the private sector charge too much and deliver too little. The *minimum* requirement for outsourcing to make sense is that the outsourcee deliver an equivalent result for cheaper. Private sector health care doesn't come close to meeting that requirement.

    The one quibble I'll make with this article is, that's quite the "Gee whiz" graph. With the bottom at 18,000 it makes it look like the new regime did like half as many surgeries, which isn't the case.

    One might argue that number performed isn't key, except I presume there are waiting lists so it kind of is.

  4. Omni has the present contract because they deliver the service cheaper, that was a stipulation for the contract. Its easy to be cheaper when you don't have to support the union machine...

  5. Omni does not do surgeries for a lower cost than the public sector. An arbitrator ruled last year that the public sector is more cost effective. When the health region does a surgery for WCB or an out of province patient, they bill about $1,000 for the surgery, yet they are paying Omni $1,500 per surgery! Various doctors who work in the public system are shareholders and directors of Omni, so they are double dipping.