REGINA – Outsourcing health care to private companies is not a new concept in Saskatchewan. The Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region (RQHR) has been using third party providers for CT scans and some day surgeries for a few years.
“In all the cases that we’ve done so far, it’s been more cost effective to deliver these in the community by a third party provider,” said RQHR President and CEO Keith Dewar.
Its apparent success has led the health region to expand to endoscopy and MRI services.
“I think in Saskatchewan we’ve probably leading in some areas around the provision of some of these services within the community,” explained Dewar. “Endoscopy is a new one for the province and we will be the test site, I guess, for how that’s going to work.”
Mayfair Diagnostics is the latest centre to take on work for the health region. Beginning in late October, it’s expected to perform 5,500 MRI services per year for RQHR.
However, one question being asked is whether there are enough health care workers to fulfill demand in both the public and private sectors.
“If the same surgeon is performing that job in the private sector that means he may be forced to do a longer work hour or something of that sort. Then, what is happening with the quality of the service? I don’t know. That’s my major concern,” said Harminder Guliani, economics professor at the University of Regina.
According to the health region, labour hasn’t been a problem so far: “Staffing has not been a challenge for us in either the CT or the MRI services,” said Dewar.
The NDP provided Global News with a statement.
“We’ll certainly be monitoring this as it moves ahead. We’ve heard many concerns about this government’s approach to health care, especially how it’s continuing to neglect the basics while contracting out more and more health care services to private, for-profit companies, including many from other provinces and even other countries… ,” said Danielle Chartier, NDP health critic.
RQHR is still requesting bids for a company to provide endoscopy procedures.