This week the province announced that community medical lab services run in larger urban centres will now be provided by the for-profit service DynaLIFE Medical Lab. (Black Press file photo)

This week the province announced that community medical lab services run in larger urban centres will now be provided by the for-profit service DynaLIFE Medical Lab. (Black Press file photo)

Critics condemn the expansion private lab services in Alberta

‘Health-care dollars should always go to patient care and not profits’

Health care decisions should be based on what’s best for patients and front-line workers, but instead the UCP government’s priority is privatization, says Friends of Medicare.

This week the province announced that community medical lab services run in larger urban centres will now be provided by the for-profit service DynaLIFE Medical Lab. DynaLIFE will also test specimens from hospitals throughout the province.

“Contracting community lab services to DynaLIFE will give Albertans better access to high-quality community lab services, while generating cost savings that will be reinvested into other health services. DynaLIFE has a proven history of providing innovative lab services and Albertans can be assured they are getting the best care possible,” said Health Minister Jason Copping in a statement.

Chris Gallaway, Friends of Medicare executive director, said the province has not provided any proof that DynaLIFE will improve health care.

“It has nothing to do with their stated claims about cost savings or better care because if it did they’d show us some evidence that’s actually what’s going to happen. They refuse to release any details to show how it will save money or how the care will be better,” said Gallaway.

Related:

Some Red Deer hospital laboratory workers face pending job losses

Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) says the pension of lab workers transitioning to DynaLIFE is also in jeopardy.

President Mike Parker said lab workers deserve to have their contracts honoured, but DynaLIFE has instead unilaterally imposed an RRSP option even before a hearing regarding their pension is held at the Alberta Labour Relations Board.

HSAA says it will be filing grievances to ensure the collective agreement is enforced.

“Health-care dollars should always go to patient care and not profits. Unfortunately, the privatization of these services will put patient care at risk and ensure profits on the backs of our members’ pensions,” said Parker in a statement.

HSAA says the decision to privatize lab services is misguided and part of the UCP’s plans to dismantle the public health-care system. Research conducted by the Parkland Institute has shown that the government’s cost-saving claims are dubious and the risk to the quality of patient care is of serious concern.

“Lab techs and lab assistants are the unsung heroes of the health-care system. Without them, doctors are only guessing,” Parker said.

Related:

Lab testing out-sourcing could mean longer testing wait times for rural residents

The province says this first phase of the provincial transition to DynaLIFE impacts North, Edmonton, Central and Calgary zones of Alberta Health Services (AHS).

About two-thirds of provincial lab work, or 50 million tests per year, is generated from the community and will be delivered by DynaLIFE under contract to AHS. The contract includes operating community labs and mobile collection facilities in cities and communities with more than 25,000 collections per year.

In-hospital laboratories operated by Alberta Precision Laboratories will continue to serve patients who have a requisition generated at a hospital or urgent care site, either through inpatient, emergency or ambulatory clinics. Hospital labs in rural areas that do not have a stand-alone community lab will also continue to serve rural community clients.



szielinski@reddeeradvocate.com

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