Longwoods Blog

National Post. Sunday June 10, 2012 [excerpts]

“It’s a better [potential] scandal than Air Ornge or eHealth,” says one insider, referring to the province’s beleaguered air ambulance service and well-documented spending spree with electronic health records, “because it’s a systemic problem.”

. . . salaries paid to physicians, who under the myriad of complex new “alternate “arrangements” which go hand-in-hand with FHTs, [Family Health Teams] earn about 25% more than their counterparts who work solo and are paid on the old fee-for-service model.

. . . serious problems at two different FHTs – one of the oldest and one of the newest, a physician led team – suggest there may be widespread gaps with oversight and real potential for abuse and even wrongdoing.

With at least a couple of FHTs, for instance, Postmedia has learned that the province has been paying for years for what could be called “ghost” employees, contract health practitioners the FHTs are funded to hire on a part-time basis but haven’t yet been able to find.

And when the FHTs in question told the ministry that, for instance, they hadn’t yet hired the nurse practitioner or other “allied professional” they were funded for, “They kept sending us the money,” the bewildered source says.

The ministry disputes the term “ghost” employees, but acknowledges some funds aren’t spent by FHTs “for a period of time” and defends the practice as giving the teams “the flexibility to hire” whenever they’re able to do so.

At one FHT, when staff reportedly couldn’t persuade bureaucrats to stop sending payments for ghost employees, the FHT banked the money and allegedly gave their regular physicians an unsolicited – and improper, as defined by the FHT-ministry deal – “bonus” at year’s end

(Complete column available here:  www.nationalpost.com/blatchford)

This entry was posted on Monday, June 11th, 2012 at 12:23 pm and is filed under Longwoods Online.