Nurses warn against reinstatement of competitive bidding for home care services
TORONTO, Dec. 16, 2008 – Ontario residents who rely on home care will be poorly served by changes that the Ministry of Health quietly announced this week.
On December 15, Minister David Caplan said the government was lifting a moratorium on the competitive bidding of home care contracts. The moratorium was put in place a year ago by former Health Minister George Smitherman following a public outcry in Hamilton. That city’s residents protested the fact that two non-profit agencies - the Victorian Order of Nurses (VON) and St. Joseph’s Home Care - that had served the community for more 100 years, were disqualified from the process.
“Competitive bidding is the antithesis of good patient care. It leads people to compete rather than to collaborate, pitting one health-care provider against another while leaving patients on the sidelines,” says RNAO president Wendy Fucile adding that competitive bidding never yielded the economic benefits touted by the Mike Harris government when it was first introduced. “This was an invention of a previous government and we have repeatedly asked the McGuinty government to cancel competitive bidding in Ontario.”
RNAO’s executive director, Doris Grinspun, says tinkering with competitive bidding rules will not fix home care for the public. “Competitive bidding will continue to create uncertainty and disruption for home care clients and health-care providers alike,” she says, adding that “what we really need from the minister is a substantive commitment, in dollars and cents, to improve home care.”
“The upcoming Spring budget is an opportunity for Minister Caplan to show his commitment to the home-care system,” Grinspun says. “Then, and only then, will the people who rely on home care be able to get the help they need - from vulnerable senior citizens who want to stay in their homes, to the families of disabled children to people who’ve recently been discharged from hospital,” adds Grinspun.
RNAO says steps taken to improve accountability, such as public reporting and quality measures, are fine, but do nothing to address the fundamental problems with competitive bidding. A competitive system invariably undermines continuity of care and caregiver for patients and job satisfaction for health providers – factors which have a profound impact on the access and quality of care the public receives adds Fucile.
The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional association representing registered nurses wherever they practise in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has lobbied for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses’ contribution to shaping the health-care system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve.
For more information:
Marion Zych, Director of Communications
Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario