March 24, 2019

Super agency proposed to overhaul health care system in Ontario

28 February 2019, 12:27 | Silvia Roy

Province unveils new 'Ontario Health' super agency, co-ordinated health teams

Ford and Elliott

Under the plan, a new agency, Ontario Health, will consolidate Ontario's 14 regional health care administrations, Cancer Care Ontario, Health Quality Ontario and Trillium Gift of Life Network and other agencies.

As expected, the minister also confirmed that a new superagency, Ontario Health, would absorb the functions of six health-care agencies, including Cancer Care Ontario, and 14 local health integration networks (LHINs), the organizations that now oversee home care and manage the waiting lists for nursing homes.

The overhaul of province's health system announced Tuesday will bring Ontario a step closer to the privatization of health-care, says MPP Gilles Bisson (NDP - Timmins).

A communications person with North East LHIN, responded with an email stating "The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is handling all media inquiries". "But we will have some metrics that we expect them to achieve in terms of improvements in both patient experience as well as in use of resources and in some of the pesky metrics of the healthcare system like alternative levels of care and wait times". "Home care continues as before an there are no changes to long-term care home placement", a statement on the North East Local Health Integration Network website reads.

The Progressive Conservatives campaigned on a promise to funnel more money to front-line care by finding efficiencies and end the practice of treating patients in hospital hallways because there are no beds available.

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To achieve true integrated and coordinated care, Ontario is proposing to streamline the important work of these health agencies so it can be performed more effectively and collaboratively, provide more value for tax dollars and enable people to work together instead of in silos.

The government introduced the legislation at Queen's Park Tuesday afternoon.

Elliott said the government will begin creating Ontario Health this spring but said the changes will not happen overnight.

The South West LHIN referred all inquiries about the announcement to the ministry. Nothing's going to change that way.

Ontario is spending $3.8 billion over 10 years to establish a comprehensive and connected system for mental health and addictions treatment and adding 15,000 new long-term care beds over five years and 30,000 beds over 10 years. That is an average of 3,000 people, every day, in hospital beds because they can not get the professional services that would allow them to recover at home. She says local health teams will help co-ordinate care.

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One example she identified as a need is follow-up care for patients, who might need access to personal support workers after their time in the hospital.

"You will continue to have access to the care you need and the health care provider you have built relationship with". Community relations director Catherine Walker said officials will comment further once they know more about the government's plans.

The bottom-up approach that gives primary care physicians a seat at the table is welcome news, Ontario College of Family Physicians president Jennifer Young said.

"I think that sense of urgency to say, 'What can we do to increase service to support this family so that they don't need to go and spend 12 hours in a hospital hallway?'" The creation of a permanent Council will ensure the government partners with patients to gain critical insights into how they experience the health care system and reflect those insights in decision making.

VanderBent said no matter what changes the province makes, demand for "good" home care will remain. "Similar systems around the world. have been successful when family physicians have been an essential leader of those changes". These teams would support continuous access to care and smooth transitions as patients move between one provider to another, and receive care in different locations or health care settings.

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