LONDON, Ont. - The London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) is confirming that the hospital is planning to shutter 49 beds as part of cost-saving measures, a significant increase from the 11 beds previously reported.
On Thursday morning, a source within LHSC provided an internal email sent on behalf of Julie Trpkovski, vice president of Clinical Services for LHSC. Also on the email is Dr. Adam Dukelow, EVP and chief medical officer for LHSC.
The subject line on the email was “Strategic Initiative – Improving Access and Flow,” it notes that LHSC is working on a three-year financial recovery strategy to ensure financial sustainability.
The email reads in part, “Effective October 1 LHSC will begin closing 49 beds across the hospital in a staged approach based on occupancy. This bed closure builds on decreasing the overall patient length of stay in acute care services.”
Ontario Nurses Association (ONA) Local 100, the union representing nurses at LHSC, has confirmed to CTV News that they have received the same information via email.
The number of beds closing is a significant jump from the 11 surgical beds in the Burns and Plastics confirmed on Wednesday to be closing as a cost-saving measure.
Local Coordinator for ONA Local 100 James Murray says the union is worried about what these bed cuts will do to patient care.
"Concerns for patients is the wait times, we currently put patients in hallways on stretchers because we don't have beds for patients with the current numbers we do have, so to reduce those numbers...that's just going to compound the problem even more."
On Thursday afternoon, Trpkovski sat down with CTV News and confirmed the 49-bed closure includes the 11 previously reported. She also said the closures will be divided between the Victoria Hospital and University Hospital campuses.
Reaction to news of the 11 surgical beds closing had already been strong.
“Tragic would be an understatement, this is bad,” said Peter Bergmanis, chair of the London Health Coalition. He adds that no matter how it’s framed, cuts inside hospitals affect patient care.
“When they say they close the bed what they are really saying is they are getting rid of staff, whether it be temporary or not, so they don’t have to pay the wages to look after those patients.”
In June LHSC revealed that they would be ending the year with a $24-million budget deficit.
Shortly after that announcement the hospital revealed it would need to drastically slash staff hours as part of a plan to deal with the deficit.
Now Trpkovski says the closures are part of that three-year fiscal plan, “When we look at our data and look at our clinical practices we believe this is the most comprehensive plan to lead us into the future.”
Asked about concerns the closures would affect patients waiting for in the emergency room for a bed, she says, “We have escalated plans put in place that when we have backups in the emergency department that we will be really responsive in trying to push patients through the system as quickly as we can.”
- With files from CTV London's Celine Zadorsky