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Private health access would ease growing Alberta wait times: health advocate

File / Global News

A healthcare advocate said Thursday it’s time to start the conversation again about private access inside the public health care system.

The comment followed a release by the United Conservative Party (UCP) on Alberta Health Services (AHS) wait time reports.

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The UCP put together information from several first-quarter reports from AHS that the party said show patients are not getting the care they deserve when they need it. In many cases, the wait times are getting worse.

Some of the key results show:

  • 18 per cent of Alberta’s hospital beds were occupied by patients waiting for continuing care beds, the highest-ever level recorded in the province. In the North Zone that number was 28 per cent
  • Only 65 per cent of children got mental health services within 30 days, the worst ever results compiled by the province
  • A three month wait for open heart surgery, almost five weeks longer than in 2016
  • A wait of almost nine months for a hip replacement and ten months for a knee replacement

Ronald Kustra, with the Association of Canadians for Sustainable Medicare, told Danielle Smith on News Talk 770 that Canada can’t be scared to move from the traditional model for health care.

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“We need to move into a system where patients truly do have choice. Where, when they do not have timely access to care, they can buy it privately here in Canada and where governments actually look at how much money they’re spending on healthcare.”

LISTEN: Interim UCP Leader Nathan Cooper and Ronald Kustra on problems with Alberta’s health care system

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UCP Interim leader Nathan Cooper told Danielle Smith something is really wrong when some patients in Alberta are waiting over three months in a hospital bed to get into continuing care.

“In the north region, there’s a 999-day wait for hospital inpatients to be placed in continuing care and double the wait of only a year ago, which was 47 days,” he said.

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Cooper said Albertans were led to believe they would see a better result under the NDP.

“They said when they became government, this wouldn’t happen anymore and that the only problem was that the healthcare system wasn’t funded, and so, they were going to fully fund it and we would see better results. But the exact opposite of that has happened.”

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Kustra said privatization is still a dirty word in Alberta, but that the province and the country need to look to Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

“They all outperform us and they all have the option of private care for those patients who want to access it.”

“It’s incredibly wasteful and inefficient to have Albertans stuck in hospital beds while they wait for the appropriate care.This data must be a wakeup call for the minister that our system isn’t working, and the solution isn’t just throwing money at a problem,” UCP health critic Tany Yao added.

“We need to find ways to streamline our system, reduce bureaucracy, and get Albertans the care they deserve.”

The UCP took its information from reports on  performance , quarterly monitoring measures, and ER wait times.

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