MUHC facing $53M budget crunch
Published Tuesday, December 18, 2012 12:54PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, December 18, 2012 6:42PM EST
MONTREAL - Patients at the McGill University Health Centre will soon be feeling the pinch after a damning government report revealed Tuesday the hospital network couldn’t account for more than 800,000 hours in unauthorized pay, among other issues.
There are serious questions being raised about how the public funds at the network of six hospitals have been spent since 2009.
“They didn't go by the rules that are in the system to really manage the situation the budget or even the purchase of buildings,” said Danielle McCann of Health and Social Services Montreal.
“More than 800,000 hours worked without a growth of activities,” said McCann, adding, “There were also irregularities in terms of the buildings bought by MUHC without authorization from the agency or the ministry.”
The MUHC admits it knew about the problems and gave the government information about it all.
”We could try to analyze to death the past. What we're focusing is making sure that we come back to equilibrium,” said MUHC director of communications Richard Fahey.
To do so, the MUHC is facing $53 million in cuts within the next three months.
One possibility is to focus its efforts on complicated cases, and to encourage patients to visit CLSC's, regional hospitals, or their own GP instead of coming to a hospital.
The cuts should come from bloated management budgets and not patients’ services, said patients’ rights advocate Paul Brunet.
“I'm a little fed up of this kind of exercise that is too easy to hurt people rather than to hurt their own management environment,” said Brunet.
The MUHC said it is committed to making things right.
“That's what we're focusing on moving forward and being fiscally responsible because we are handling in the end public funds for the public,’” said Fahey.
This comes as the hospital network sues former director Arthur Porter for nearly $300,000 he was paid in excess salary, and it is also coping with allegations another former employee defrauded the network of some $1.6 million.
There are also reports that staffing levels at the construction site for the superhospital are being inflated, with almost $900,000 in salary expenses that have yet to be explained.
The total budget for the MUHC network is about $1 billion. A $53 million deficit would account for almost half of the provincial health budget's deficit.
The province has appointed a financial guide to help the MUHC navigate the upcoming cuts.
Normand Rinfret is the MUHC director-general.