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Physical Therapy Services Cut in Five Hills Health Region

Moose Jaw (July 23, 2013) – A document obtained by the Health Sciences Association of Saskatchewan shows that the Five Hills Health Region, which includes the City of Moose Jaw, has a 50% vacancy rate among its physical therapists, and has drastically cut services to patients, including children and those with chronic conditions and injuries.

“A June 24th memo from the health region’s Director of Therapies talks about the “extreme shortage of physical therapists”, and states that the region expects to operate at “50% of the usual staffing until the fall of 2013”. Why hasn’t this severe shortage of physical therapists been communicated to all residents of the Five Hills Health Region, and what steps are being taken to solve this health care crisis?” Health Sciences President Karen Wasylenko asked.

“The internal memo states that all physical therapy services in Craik will be “temporarily discontinued” while physical therapy services in Central Butte will be reduced to “monthly”. In addition, the memo states that the 50% reduction in physical therapists will mean Outpatient Services at the Moose Jaw Union Hospital will stop seeing “clients with chronic conditions or injuries”. The memo even states that services to children will be cut: “over the summer, pediatric PT service will be reduced”. Health regions have to be made publicly accountable for these kinds of drastic health care cuts,” Wasylenko said.

“The memo even suggests that health care providers should “encourage your clients to seek PT service at a private clinic”. Is this the strategy of Saskatchewan health regions? To cut public health care services to the point that patients and their families are forced to pay for these services at private clinics?” Wasylenko asked.

“No one can say that they didn’t see this crisis coming. Last September, the health regions’ representative, the Saskatchewan Association of Health Organizations (SAHO), admitted in a Market Supplement Report that health regions were having problems maintaining Physical Therapy services: “several health regions report significant service delivery issues directly attributed to recruitment and retention issues”. That report recommended an increase in the Market Supplement paid to Physical Therapists, but in spite of our repeated efforts to negotiate that new wage rate over the past ten months, SAHO has failed to do so in a timely manner,” Wasylenko charged.

“Just last week, we saw that a shortage of occupational and physical therapists has resulted in severe cuts to patient services in the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region. Now we see that health region and SAHO inaction is hurting patients and their families in the Five Hills Health Region as well. How can these health regions claim that they are putting patients and their families first?” Wasylenko asked.

For Further Information Contact:

Kate Robinson, Communications
Health Sciences Association of Saskatchewan
(306-221-6316)

Attachments:
Internal Memo

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