Health Issues at Forefront of Alberta’s Upcoming Election

Posted by Alan Zunec on Thursday, April 19th, 2012 at 10:21am.

Emergency doctors in Alberta, speaking through their representatives, are trying to get the point across that the political parties within the province are not taking health care concerns seriously enough. In fact, all of them are over-simplifying an issue that is anything but simple.

Dr. Felix Soibelman, the Alberta Medical Association president of the emergency medicine sector, along with Dr. Paul Parks, who previously advised the Torries of a possible collapse in the emergency care system, both crafted a letter to the Journal. In it they noted that the emergency care fast-track system, advocated by Alison Redford and the Progressive Conservative party, is nothing different than what is already being done. Cases such as broken bones or burns are already being diverted to satellite care centers, so that the ER is reserved for critical cases. Rather, the pair noted that the way to get the stretchers out of ER hallways is to fund more long term care facilities, which would free up needed hospital beds.

Another issue targeted is surgery wait times and a promise made by the Wildrose party. They propose guaranteed wait times for people needing ten specific surgeries, and if necessary, paying for them to go out of province to get them if that timetable is not met. The patients would be given the choice of private or public hospitals/facilities, but would have to pay additional fees.

The problem is that diverting this money from the Alberta system could be interpreted as the first step in the privatization of health care and competition between facilities. It also gives people service based on payment, rather than need. The ideal is to get a patient from an ER bed to a regular hospital bed within the first eight hours of arrival. So far, the Tory government and the province have failed to meet that mark, and should be held accountable.

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