NDP Leader Rachel Notley is calling on Health Minister Tyler Shandro to protect public access to surgeries that largely impact women.
She said the recent Ernst & Young review of Alberta Health Services lists tubal ligation, breast reductions and carpal tunnel surgery as having “limited clinical value,” and recommends moving some procedures to non-hospital surgical facilities to reduce overall surgery volumes, wait lists and wait times.
“The minister accepted that recommendation and asked AHS for a plan to implement that recommendation,” Notley said.
While Shandro has said he is not delisting or de-insuring these procedures, by accepting this recommendation, they will be pushed off to private, for-profit surgical clinics, she said.
“(Women) will not be told that the personal treatments that we seek are of limited clinical value, and we will not be told our health is not a gender issue. It is.
“He’s making it one and he needs to stop,” said Notley, who noted breast reduction surgery for men was not considered to have limited clinical value.
Dr. Peter Bouch, a Red Deer family doctor and past chair of Red Deer Primary Care Network, said the list of surgeries targeted does not make sense.
“I don’t know where they got this list. If surgery is indicated, I think it’s indicated,” Bouch said.
“We try multiple other modalities before we go to surgery. Surgery is the last option. I don’t think any of these surgeries are of limited clinical value.”
He said patients will not die without the surgery, but they will live in discomfort and their quality of life will definitely decrease.
More women than men are affected by carpal tunnel syndrome, with the amount of computer work now required on the job. Without surgery, they can be left with permanent nerve damage, he said.
“If the nerve gets damaged, you have very limited function of your hand. Where does leave you in the future?”
He said women with large breasts can suffer from severe back and neck pain and find it very difficult to move around without breast reduction.
Some women have been on all types of birth control and can’t tolerate them, so tubal ligation is the only thing that works when they do not want anymore children.
“I think it’s the lady’s right to decide if she wants a tubal and doesn’t want anymore children. It’s not a life-saving procedure, but it could have some major financial impact on families.”
Abdominal hernias in adults, tonsillectomy for adults and children, rhinosinusitis and hemorrhoids surgery are some of the other surgeries on the limited clinical value list.