Alberta nixes panel recommendation to close five rural hospitals, trauma centre

Alberta nixes panel recommendation to close five rural hospitals, trauma centre

CALGARY — Alberta’s health minister is rejecting recommendations from a health review panel to close down five regional hospitals and shutter one of Edmonton’s two adult trauma centres.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro says while he wants change in the system and has accepted many of the suggestions in the report, those two recommendations are off the table.

“There will be no hospital closures or consolidation of urban trauma centres,” Shandro told reporters Monday as he released a 220-page Ernst & Young report, which will serve as the blueprint for upcoming structural changes to Alberta Health Services.

Alberta is spending $20.6 billion on health this year, equivalent to more than 40 per cent of the operating budget.

Shandro said Alberta Health Services, the $15.4-billion delivery arm of the health system, will act on the other recommendations and provide an implementation plan by May 13.

The report “provides clear evidence for overdue reforms and opportunities where our system can do better in terms of patient services, in terms of outcome, in terms of value of money,” Shandro said.

The $2-million report was ordered by Shandro last summer to find efficiencies while not compromising care.

The report made 57 recommendations, including changes to work rules and pay for doctors and nurses, expanded use of private clinics, and further outsourcing of support services such as laundry, linen, food service and housekeeping.

It noted that Alberta has 16 urban hospitals handling well over three million people and 83 others in smaller regional areas caring for about 850,000 people.

It said of those 83 hospitals, 77 have emergency rooms that are underused — averaging three visits a night with a lot of very minor cases — and many of those could be consolidated or operate on reduced hours.

The report also said that close to half of the 83 hospitals could be reconfigured to get better value for money while making sure remote residents still get timely care.

“Underused hospitals lead to inefficient use of staff and facilities,” said the report, noting that under their criteria five unnamed facilities could be closed altogether.

The report also said for cities the size of Calgary and Edmonton one adult trauma centre and one pediatric trauma centre in each are enough.

However, Edmonton has two adult trauma centres, at the Royal Alexandra Hospital and the University of Alberta facility.

“Experience from other jurisdictions highlights that running two separate trauma sites in close proximity can lead to duplication (of high level, specialized) services,” said the report, which found many examples of both Edmonton facilities handling similar cases.

The report estimated a maximum of $1.9 billion in total savings per year. Shandro said that figure can vary depending on how recommendations are implemented, but any savings will be reinvested in the system.

Dr. Verna Yiu, head of AHS, said the organization accepts the report and has already started working on some of the suggestions.

Opposition NDP health critic David Shepherd lauded some of the recommendations for reform, saying they had been launched under the former NDP government, but cautioned against rash action when it comes to reforming rural health care and using more private clinics to handle routine surgeries.

“There is potential within these recommendations to seriously impact patient care,” Shepherd said.

The Alberta Federation of Labour, in a statement, said the report is political cover for Premier Jason Kenney’s “ideological” plan to outsource and privatize the publicly funded health system.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, reported an additional 1,307 COVID-19 cases Tuesday. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Central zone up to 1,249 active COVID-19 cases

Red Deer sits at 257 active COVID-19 cases

Mayor
Mayor Veer appointed as Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer has been appointed an Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel by… Continue reading

Const. Jason Tress
Mountie testifies another RCMP officer sexually assaulted her at 2012 party

Former Mountie on trial for sexual assault in connection with incident in northwestern Alberta

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau leaves the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Conservatives push for parliamentary committee study into failed vaccine deal

OTTAWA — The federal Conservatives are calling for a parliamentary committee to… Continue reading

(Black Press file photo).
Pregancy Care Centre seeks support through online fundraiser

The annual banquet was cancelled, due to the pandemic

Idyllic winter scenes are part of the atmosphere of the holiday season, and are depicted in many seasonal movies. How much do you know about holiday movies? Put your knowledge to the test. (Pixabay.com)
QUIZ: Test your knowledge of holiday movies and television specials

The festive season is a time for relaxing and enjoying some seasonal favourites

A cleaner wipes a glass panel at Toronto's Eaton Centre Shopping mall on Saturday, March 21, 2020. The national statistics office will say this morning how much the domestic economy bounced back in the third quarter of the year. The Canadian economy suffered its worst three-month stretch on record in the second quarter as the economy came to a near halt in April before starting to recover in May and June. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Consumer helps fuel third-quarter economic rebound as households resume spending

Consumer helps fuel third-quarter economic rebound as households resume spending

A Suncor logo is shown at the company's annual meeting in Calgary on May 2, 2019.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Suncor Energy increases spending, oil production guidance for 2021

Suncor Energy increases spending, oil production guidance for 2021

Imperial Oil logo at the company's annual meeting in Calgary on April 28, 2017. Shares in Imperial Oil Ltd. are rising after it announced late Monday it would take a writedown of up to $1.2 billion on Canadian assets it doesn't think it will ever develop. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Imperial Oil to write off up to $1.2 billion in Alberta natural gas assets

Imperial Oil to write off up to $1.2 billion in Alberta natural gas assets

The Canadian dollar coin is displayed next to the US dollar Friday, January 30, 2015 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
S&P/TSX composite gets boost to start December after strong November rally

S&P/TSX composite gets boost to start December after strong November rally

Dustin Mitchell (Coats) is wanted in relation to Nov. 25 homicide. (Photo courtesy of Red Deer RCMP)
Man wanted in homicide investigation still at large

Dustin Mitchell (Coats) wanted in relation to Nov. 25 homicide

Toronto police respond to an incident at St. Michael’s College School, in Toronto, Nov. 19, 2018. The trial of a teen accused of sexually assaulting two students at a prestigious Toronto high school is set to resume today. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tijana Martin
Trial resumes for teen accused in St. Michael’s College School sex assault case

Defence lawyers for a teen accused of sexually assaulting two students at… Continue reading

Minister of Health Patty Hajdu responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. The Trump administration is keeping silent about Canada blocking its plan to import prescription drugs from north of the border. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trump admin silent after Hajdu pushes back on U.S. plan to raid Canada’s drug cabinet

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Trump administration is keeping silent about Canada blocking… Continue reading

Most Read