EDMONTON, AB (August 21, 2013): Findings of the Health Services Preferential Access Inquiry report point to a broken health care system and Premier Alison Redford’s broken promise to expand the terms of reference to include issues such as the bullying and intimidation of health professionals, the Wildrose Official Opposition said today.
Among the 12 recommendations from Justice John Vertes, he outlines how many systemic issues exist in Alberta’s health care system whether it be unreasonably long wait times or several instances of improper preferential access. Vertes concludes his report by asking, “are there simply too many holes to plug (Page 252)” to eliminate improper preferential access altogether. “The findings of this inquiry point to many alarming incidents of preferential access occurring within our health system where patients were fast-tracked for screening colonoscopies or got bumped up the line during the H1N1 crisis,” Wildrose Official Opposition Leader Danielle Smith said. “Albertans expect a health care system where these holes can be identified and fixed so they can have the confidence their health care system is putting patients first.” Smith said that that it will be difficult to identify these holes and ensure they are plugged given the limited terms of reference during the inquiry. The inquiry was unable to investigate new revelations of queue jumping or improper access through private facilities like the Helios Clinic, look into the systemic issue of inferior access for patients or scrutinize the intimidation of health professionals. The inquiry was also limited by the quality of testimony from leaders in the health care system with Vertes saying that, “many witnesses… exhibited a regrettable failure to recollect events and activities that should not have slipped so easily from memory (Page 50).” “Ms. Redford broke her promise to hold a detailed inquiry and now we are left with more questions than answers,” Smith said. Wildrose Health Critic Heather Forsyth said that the report, though limited in its terms of reference, offers important recommendations, several of which have been put forth by the Wildrose in the legislature. “In the fall, the government failed to pass any of the amendments we put forward to strengthen whistleblower legislation in our province and today’s report is a condemnation on this government’s inaction,” Forsyth said. “Many of the other recommendations, such as a Health Advocate office and tackling wait times are issues the Wildrose have long been advocating for and we hope today’s report will finally encourage this government to act.”