06 June 2012

HCCSJ operational review a decade later #nlpoli

Talk of financial problems at Eastern Health brought to mind an operational review of the former Health Care Corporation of St. John’s, completed by the Hay Group and released in May 2002.

Go back to the official record of the House of Assembly – Hansard – and you’ll quickly be struck by the similarity between the way the opposition approached the issue then and now.

Consider these comments by Ross Wiseman, the Liberal who crossed the floor to the Tories and later served as health minister:

The union says, once again nurses and other health professionals in this Province are holding their breath to see if their jobs are going to be lost.

Fear of lost jobs. Wiseman asking the minister if he will reject the report.

All too familiar.

The big difference between then and now is that the provincial government hired a consultant and released the review publicly a decade ago.  The current crowd running the place are keeping everything secret and they insist there really hasn’t been a report of any kind.

You can find copies of the report online:

Try the same thing for Eastern Health. You will hunt in vain.

One of the big problems with the current approach is that it hampers understanding.  People can miss a lot of important details.  Take, for example, the idea of closing the poison control hotline and running it, instead, out of a larger centre like Toronto.

CBC listed some of the old recommendations and some of the problems the Hay Group identified with the centre.  Some of them had to do with how the hospital ran the thing.  They raised questions about the risks, liabilities and the treatment.  You can actually get your head around those ideas.  If you go to page 146 of the report you can read the whole thing.

By contrast, here’s the sum total of what Susan Sullivan said about it in the House of Assembly on June 4:

Mr. Speaker, there has been no decision made or contemplated in terms of the Poison Control Centre. It is among a list of options that Eastern Health may look at, but there is absolutely no decision made. Poison Control service line exists now; it will exist into the future. Should anything different happen, Mr. Speaker, we will be the first to come forward and let you know, but Eastern Health right now is working its way down through all kinds of options that they may consider in terms of finding the efficiencies that need to be found.

Excessive sick leave?  Here’s what the 2002 report stated:

The Human Resources leadership team acknowledges that there is significant opportunity and need to reduce the amount employee absence due to illness and/or accident. Senior management has identified improvement in this area as a strategic imperative. Sick time usage at HCCSJ exceeds that of any other major academic health science centre in Canada. The exhibit following shows paid sick time as a percentage of total worked hours for each of the
comparator hospitals used in this review. (p. 46)

Here’s the exhibit that, in stark contrast to the current situation actually shows the other hospitals or health regions used for comparison.

sick leave 2002

Take a minute and read the report.

Then consider how much you knew a decade ago about how government spent your money.

Then look at what you know today.