EDMONTON, AB (January 18, 2013): The term of the Health Services Preferential Access Inquiry should be extended in order to hear more testimony and get to the bottom of the queue-jumping details just now emerging, Wildrose Health Critic Heather Forsyth said today. Testimony was supposed to wrap tomorrow, but inquiry counsel have already indicated more hearings are required.
Forsyth said the inquiry should be given more time to call witnesses and the April 30 deadline to report its findings to government should be extended. “The inquiry has been ongoing for weeks, and as the evidence trail has unfolded Albertans have now begun to hear real evidence that queue-jumping has taken place in our public health care system,” Forsyth said. “The inquiry needs more time to fully explore leads generated by this week’s testimony and more time to present a comprehensive report.” Testimony this week revealed that a private clinic with connections to the PC party was involved in bumping its patients to the head of the public queue for colon cancer screening. The inquiry also heard that a senior AHS official notified AHS chief executive Chris Eagle of the matter but no further action was taken. The inquiry also heard testimony from former Capital Health chief executive Sheila Weatherill that former Health Minister Iris Evans contacted her about preferential treatment. Forsyth said the inquiry should call Eagle and Evans to testify. “These are leads that need to examined,” Forsyth said. “Why didn’t Dr. Eagle do anything about the cancer screening queue-jumping? Did Iris Evans really inquire about getting people enhanced treatment? These are questions only the inquiry can answer and questions Albertans deserve answers to.”