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NDP Leader Andrea Horwath calls on province to address hospital bed closures in London

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath speaks during a press conference at Queen's Park in Toronto on Monday, Dec. 17, 2018. Ontario's New Democrats are gathering this weekend to discuss party priorities and hold a vote of confidence on their leader of ten years. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn.
Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath speaks during a press conference at Queen's Park in Toronto on Monday, Dec. 17, 2018. Ontario's New Democrats are gathering this weekend to discuss party priorities and hold a vote of confidence on their leader of ten years. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn. Frank Gunn / The Canadian Press

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is calling on the provincial government to take action after the recent announcement of bed closures of the London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC).

“Mr. Ford promised to get rid of hallway health care but he is making it worse,” Horwath said. “He is taking it from bad to worse.”

Earlier this month, a leaked memo revealed the LHSC had begun closing 49 beds across the hospital to address a major budget deficit.

The closures started with 11 hospital beds in the burn unit.

READ MORE: Leaked memo shows London Health Sciences Centre has begun closing 49 beds

Horwath joined London MPPs to speak with nurses who work in the burn unit, as well as members of the local Ontario Nurses Association to discuss the bed closures and the impact they will have on patient care.

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“It was shocking to hear what some of the patients are already having to deal with in terms of some of their experiences in the hospitals,” she said.

“Having to have a major wound packed and dressed in a hallway, with nothing but a sheet as a barrier to people walking by.”

In early June, LHSC said it ended the 2018-2019 fiscal year with a $24 million deficit and would need to find additional savings of approximately $28 million for 2019-2020.

While Ontario hospitals did receive an extra 2.05 per cent, or $384 million, in the most recent provincial budget, it was less than the 3.45 per cent the Ontario Hospital Association said was necessary to deal with current hospital needs.

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New health and physical education curriculum released by Ontario government
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“The hospital is in this position because of the underfunding that started under the Liberals and has gotten worse under the Conservatives,” said Peggy Sattler, NDP MPP for London West.

“Hospitals are independent corporations run by their own boards of directors. As such, hospital boards and administrators are responsible for the day-to-day management of their hospitals, including services offered, the quality of care provided to their patients, staffing, and the implementation of the various standards and procedures adopted by the board,” said a spokesperson for the Minister of Health in a statement.

“Working directly alongside the Ontario Hospital Association, we recognize that certain hospitals continue to face long-standing structural funding pressures dating back to the previous government and are actively examining solutions, while also recognizing the need to pursue longer-term reform,” the spokesperson added.

READ MORE: LHSC brings in engineering firm to fix issues with hospital helipad

In June, the hospital also spoke of cuts to staff hours, which is the equivalent of 165 full-time positions — or 1.6 per cent of its total workforce — and a temporary hiring freeze for non-clinical staff.

“I am urging the hospital to not make these cuts and I am asking Mr. Ford to provide the funding necessary so these frontline workers can actually provide the quality of care people deserve,” said Horwath.