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Wildrose announces 3 point plan to address ER crisis, bed shortage and wait times

EDMONTON, AB (October 8, 2014) – A Wildrose government would introduce a three part plan to immediately address the crisis in emergency departments and reduce the wait time backlogs for surgeries.   According to recent media reports, emergency room physicians are warning of a "potential collapse" in Alberta's acute care system and reporting people are dying while waiting for emergency care.

Under the proposed three-point plan, the Wildrose would redirect $200 million in current spending to the following areas:

  • $50 million to re-open closed transition and long-term care beds;
  • $50 million to expand homecare funding; and
  • $100 million to the front lines to cut wait times for surgeries and other procedures.

"It's not whether AHS has the funding it needs to provide the level and quality of healthcare Albertans expect and deserve - it's how they choose to spend that money.   By re-directing these dollars, Wildrose would empower AHS to immediately re-open closed transition and long-term care beds," Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith said. "Patients would move more quickly through the ER, cutting wait times and saving lives."

Under the Wildrose plan, hundreds of currently closed beds would be immediately re-opened, including both transition beds and long-term care beds.   As Dr. Paul Parks has noted it costs taxpayers $1,650 a day to care for a patient in a hospital and just $150 a day in long-term care. In 2013 alone, inappropriate use of acute care beds cost taxpayers $400 million.

Moving patients to appropriate beds would not only save the health system money, it would open up beds in hospitals to treat acute care patients, Smith said.

Wildrose would also increase homecare funding by $50 million. "Increasing funding for homecare is another critical part of the equation.  If people can receive the treatment they need at home, that also frees up beds for other patients," Smith said.

The Wildrose would invest an additional $100 million into front-line staff and operations to reduce wait times for surgeries and other procedures. This represents less than 1 per cent of the current $18.3 billion health budget. Savings would be found through the elimination of wasteful spending practices at Alberta Health Services (AHS), such as reducing the millions in bonuses for AHS executives, decreasing the number of AHS managers and outside consultants, and ensuring the use of competitive bids instead of sole-source contracts.

"Despite repeated warnings from respected healthcare practitioners such as Medicine Hat Emergency Room physician Paul Parks, we once again find ourselves in a position where lives are literally being lost while people wait for emergency care," Wildrose Health Critic Heather Forsyth said. "Dr. Parks has tried several times to tell the new Premier and his un-elected Health Minister about the life or death situation in Alberta's emergency rooms, only to be told they're too busy to take his call. Albertans expect and deserve better from their leaders."