Ford government to create new Ontario Health super agency

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The PC government's sweeping changes to Ontario's health system have health care professionals wondering if it will actually mean better access to care for patients.

She said the aim is to have fewer people re-admitted to hospital with complications after they have been treated in hospital, because they will immediately receive the home care and other help they need when they are discharged.

The South West Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) - the regional super-agency that allocates health care dollars in much of Southwestern Ontario from Lake Erie to Tobermory - would be caught up in the agency amalgamation.

As Ontario Health Teams are established, people will continue to be able to choose who provides their care and will have more care choices available through technology.

Dr. Padma Naidu, president of Essex County Medical Society, said anything that improves patient care and the system efficiency is welcome. Some administrative jobs were lost in the process, but it meant the LHIN took on hundreds of people in what is now called its home and community care branch. "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 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). Local health care providers will be empowered to work as a connected team, taking on the work of easing transitions for patients across the continuum of care. "These teams will be built to guide patients between providers and shepherd you and your families through transitions".

The other agencies being rolled into Ontario Health are Health Quality Ontario, Trillium Gift of Life Network, Health Shared Services Ontario, and HealthForce Ontario Marketing and Recruitment Agency.

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Ontario Health Teams will be funded and held accountable for improving patient experience and people's health. With safeguards in place to protect personal health information, patients will also have an option to securely access digital health services, such as having access to their electronic health records and virtual care options for patients. "I don't think there is quite as much to (the announcement) as they would like to have us believe". Each of these agencies also has a full senior management team and office support.

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.

With the Progressive Conservatives holding a majority in the Ontario legislature, the first reading of the bill passed easily on Tuesday.

"The idea is to have Ontario Health be the agency that is responsible for coordinating the care", Elliott said.

The Ontario Health Coalition said it would fight any attempt to privatize the public non-profit health services, while the Canadian Union of Public Employees said it will begin escalating actions across the province to push the government to reconsider the changes. The funding will follow the patient, so it will also be portable. "Theoretically I would have access to one patient record so there would be no delay in patient care in that regard", said Sharad Rai, the president of the London and District Academy of Medicine. This Council provides advice on key health care priorities that have an impact on patient care and experience, and drive meaningful changes to provincial health care planning, programs and policies.

To get health care support, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, call Telehealth Ontario toll free at 1-866-797-0000 or toll free TTY at 1-866-797-0007.

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