A private surgical clinic in central Alberta will only exacerbate staff shortages and increase surgery wait times in Red Deer, says the president of the United Nurses of Alberta.
Last week Premier Jason Kenney announced a private surgical clinic will be started in central Alberta to reduce long patient waits for knee and hip replacements as well as other non-urgent operations.
“This is not going to help the Red Deer regional hospital staff their ORs, or staff their emergency department. It will make it more difficult,” Heather Smith said.
“They are going to be pulling resources from the limited resources that we have. We have a whole health human resource issue here whether the province recognizes it or not. It’s not short term, and it’s not going away.”
Smaller hospitals in the central Alberta could end up struggling even more to retain staff, she added.
The province says Alberta’s surgical wait-list currently sits at eight per cent above pre-pandemic levels.
As part of the Alberta Surgical Initiative, Alberta Health Services aims to schedule an additional 1,350 surgeries in the Central Zone by allowing chartered surgical facilities to submit proposals. The request for proposals will go out this fall.
Smith said the province should be looking at training more nurses, including support for international nurses for upgrading, and most importantly addressing the nursing shortage by focusing on retention.
She said nurses are utterly exhausted after the last two and a half years.
“If we don’t something very quickly to demonstrate there is will to listen to concerns about issues in the workplace, and ensure that work environments are respectful and safe, we’re going to keep losing more.
“There is no fast fix. But what we have to do is stop the hemorrhaging so that the problem doesn’t continue to grow,” Smith said.
According to a new poll by the non-profit Angus Reid Institute, half of Canadians reject the idea of more private health care. Another 32 per cent said the more private health care would improve the health care system, and 18 per cent were unsure.
But one thing that is certain is that a majority of Canadians are concerned about the future of health care. Sixty-one per cent say care in their community is poor or terrible. And while 39 per cent say the opposite, most Canadians are concerned about a lack of family doctors (87 per cent), staffing shortages (94 per cent), and wait times for surgeries (92 per cent) and emergencies (93 per cent).
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