Central Alberta surgery wait times too long: Wildrose MLA

Lacombe-Ponoka Wildrose MLA Ron Orr says Central Alberta lags in health funding.

Lacombe-Ponoka Wildrose MLA Ron Orr

Lacombe-Ponoka Wildrose MLA Ron Orr says the government needs to do more about wait times and surgery cancellations in Central Alberta.

Alberta wait times were highlighted by Wildrose Leader Brian Jean in the legislature this week.

A Jean-sponsored motion calling on the NDP government to produce a report within 120 days identifying the barriers in Alberta’s health system to reducing wait times and evaluating cost-effective solutions found in other provinces was put to a vote on Monday.

It was defeated by the NDP majority.

Red Deer South MLA Barb Miller says in an email that Jean’s motion “would take valuable resources away from caring for patients and divert them to unnecessary paperwork.”

Miller says wait times for strokes and many other procedures have been reduced in Alberta and the government is continuing to look for efficiencies in health spending to free up more money for essential services.

“The Wildrose wants to divert attention away from their plans to cut health care funding,” she says. “We’ll continue to invest in health, like the more than $50 million that has been spent on Red Deer Regional Hospital over the last four years.”

Orr said despite the lost motion the fight for more funding for Central Alberta to expand the hospital to bring down wait times and reduced cancelled surgeries continues.

Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre led the province with 325 postponed surgeries in 2015-16, according to provincial statistics. That made up almost half the number of postponed surgeries in the province, says Wildrose.

Provincially, wait times are the second-worst among non-Maritime provinces, says Wildrose. The average time for hip replacements in 90 per cent of cases is 209 days; for knee replacement 237 days.

“I actually think it’s huge on two fronts,” said Orr, of Central Alberta’s health issues.

“It’s huge just because of the sheer numbers that are there.”

What is at least as important is the province’s willingness to allow large funding inequities between Central Alberta and major centres, he says.

“They’ve added $2.2 billion to the big urban centres, which just makes the gap even more.”

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

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