London Wait times out of control following health care cuts

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, London West MPP Peggy Sattler and London-Fanshawe MPP Teresa Armstrong joined with patients and a concerned local physician Monday to shine a light on the growing wait times crisis for surgeries, tests and treatments in the London area after Premier Kathleen Wynne forced millions of dollars and hundreds of positions to be cut.

“Conservative and Wynne Liberal cuts to health care have done serious damage in this community,” said Horwath. “Patients are waiting at every stage of their care and hallway medicine has become common. Can you imagine if it was your young child, in pain and scared, sitting in an ER waiting room hour after hour because the hospital is backed up? Can you imagine how you’d feel if it were your mother, lying in her hospital gown on a gurney in a high-traffic, noisy hospital hallway for days because there’s no room for her? It’s time to start undoing the damage the Liberals have done.” 

Since Kathleen Wynne became premier and froze hospital budgets for four years, LHSC has been forced to publicly announce cuts totaling 113 million dollars and 328 full-time equivalent jobs. Today, the London Free Press reported a further funding shortfall of $28 million for this year, which will result in 160 full-time equivalent health care workers cut. It’s the fifth straight year of a funding shortfall at the hospital.

Now, according to recent news reports, London Health Sciences Centre has been at or above 100 per cent operating capacity for both its acute-care and mental-health beds in every quarter since the beginning of the 2012. Experts agree 85 per cent is the maximum safe capacity. 

For patients, wait times at LHSC are among the longest in the province. 

Horwath, Sattler and Armstrong were joined by Dr. Sharad Rai, a London family physician who is concerned about his patients being forced to wait. 

“My patients, and patients all across this community and province are being forced to wait far too long to get access to the healthcare they need,” said Rai. “It’s time to have a real conversation about how healthcare cutbacks have prolonged wait times in the London area.” 

Also in attendance at the event was Mrs. Beverley McCann, a London senior who has been waiting over 18 months for a double hip replacement.

“I used to be so active,” said Mrs. McCann. “I played golf, I played with my grandchild, but for the past year and a half all I have been able to do is wait.  I feel like my life has been stolen away from me.” 

The last Conservative government fired 6,000 nurses, closed 28 hospitals and slashed over 7,000 hospital beds. Wynne’s Liberals have done even more damage with years of frozen budgets and underfunding. Wynne is shortchanging hospitals by at least another $300 million this year.

The NDP has committed to providing strong, predictable base funding for hospitals that will keep up with inflation, population growth and the unique needs in each community. Horwath has called for a moratorium on layoffs of nurses and frontline care providers, and she introduced her party’s plan to create the first universal Pharmacare program, because no one should have to empty their wallet to get the medicine they need. Providing drug coverage for everyone – regardless of age, income or health history – can also play a role in relieving stress on hospitals.

LHSC hip replacement surgery wait:

  • Provincial target: 182 days
  • Provincial wait time: 245 days
  • LHSC wait time: 317 days 

LHSC knee replacement surgery wait:

  • Provincial target: 182 days
  • Provincial wait time: 279 days
  • LHSC wait time: 389 days  

LHSC MRI scan wait:

  • Provincial target: 28 days
  • Provincial wait time: 102 days
  • LHSC wait time: 108 days