Some surgery waits still too long

Performance reports on health care in Alberta are over four months late and Liberals say lengthy wait times for some surgery may be one of the reasons.

Performance reports on health care in Alberta are over four months late and Liberals say lengthy wait times for some surgery may be one of the reasons.

Liberals said charts on the Alberta Health website show wait times for urgent bypasses, hip and knee replacements, and cataract surgeries were often severely longer than the provincial target.

In the second quarter of 2013, 90 per cent of knee replacement surgery was done within 43.1 weeks while the provincial target is 28 weeks. Ninety per cent of patients had hip surgery in 37.8 weeks, but the target is 22 weeks.

Cataract patients had surgery in 30 weeks, but the target wait time is 25 weeks.

The wait time target for urgent bypasses is one week and 90 per cent were performed within 2.1 weeks.

“This is a government that loves to brag and put signs up all over the province even before laws are passed. You can rest assured if they were even near meeting the targets there would have been reports and signs all over the province,” said Alberta Liberal leader Raj Sherman on Thursday.

Sherman said Health Minister Fred Horne has both the September and December performance reports but has not released them.

He said there’s been a 41-per-cent increase in health care spending since 2007 but people are suffering.

“Albertans simply deserve quicker and faster access to care and better value for their money.”

However, surgery in Central Zone did meet provincial targets in the second quarter of 2013. Ninety per cent of knee replacement at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre happened in 25.3 weeks (28- week target) and hip surgery in 21.8 weeks (22-week target). Between September to November, cataract surgery at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre and Innisfail Health Centre took an average of 22.1 weeks (25-week target).

Wait times to be admitted, or treated and discharged, in emergency departments is available on Alberta Health Services website for Edmonton and Calgary, but not for Central Zone.

When requested, the Advocate was told the information was not available and more recent data will be available when the new AHS performance report is released.

Sherman said emergency room data should be available for every region.

“In fact the emergency department data for admitted patients is really a barometer of the health system. In the United Kingdom, the number one performance measure of their system is how long it takes for admitted people to get to a bed, the right bed.”

Sherman said for a government that campaigned on openness and transparency, “They are more opaque then they have ever been.”

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

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