Alberta to cut wait times, boost flu vaccinations

EDMONTON — The Alberta government wants to reduce emergency room wait times over the next three years, though at least one critic questions how that will be achieved.

EDMONTON — The Alberta government wants to reduce emergency room wait times over the next three years, though at least one critic questions how that will be achieved.

New targets released Tuesday indicate Alberta Health Services wants to slash the wait for complex cases in emergency departments from 16 hours to eight hours by 2012.

The target wait time for less complex cases would be four hours, down for the current 5.6 hours.

Dr. Stephen Duckett, president and CEO of Alberta Health Services, also wants to drop average wait times for hip replacement surgeries from 33 weeks to 26 weeks over the next three years.

In addition, the plan calls for 75 per cent of seniors to be immunized for the flu by 2012, up from the current 58 per cent provincewide.

Duckett, whose annual base salary is $575,000, could see that increase by up to 25 per cent if the performance objectives are met.

“We have difficult decisions to make in the years ahead, but we will not be deterred from driving forward on improvements in emergency department wait times, hip and knee surgery wait times, and better protection for seniors from influenza,” Duckett said.

Ruth Adria, chairman of the Elder Advocates of Alberta Society, said she approves of the new targets — “as long as they actually happen.”

“We live in a world where we keep being told something will change and it never does,” she said. “It’s often just rhetoric to keep the populous quiet.”

Adria said convincing many more seniors to get the flu vaccination may be difficult. She said many elderly people don’t see the need.

She said while the province claims the wait for hip replacement surgery is 33 weeks, she know of people who have waited two years.

“And this is not something that’s just cosmetic. It affects their entire lives.”

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