Queue jumping evidence ‘offensive’

Alberta’s health minister says he is very concerned over testimony about a deal that allowed patients from a private clinic in Calgary to jump the line for colon cancer tests at a public facility.

EDMONTON — Alberta’s health minister says he is very concerned over testimony about a deal that allowed patients from a private clinic in Calgary to jump the line for colon cancer tests at a public facility.

Fred Horne reacted Wednesday to evidence presented at the provincial queue-jumping inquiry.

Staff at the Forzani and MacPhail Colon Cancer Care Screening Centre testified this week about how patients from the private Helios Wellness Centre were given urgent priority for routine tests in 2010 and 2011.

“I’m really offended by it. I think all Albertans are,” said Horne.

“The only way that any of us should be accessing these services is through a physician and through the medical judgement that’s exercised by a physician.”

The inquiry heard Helios patients had screenings within weeks, while regular Albertans were waiting three years or more.

On Wednesday, the head of the screening centre explained to the inquiry that administrative chaos when the facility opened in 2008 led to some patients getting appointments quicker.

Dr. Alaa Rostom testified that specialists not working at the clinic had fewer slots to offer their private patients.

So to be fair, they were given one in every two slots.

An audit was done on the Forzani clinic in 2011 and the inquiry heard that Helios patients no longer received special treatment after that.

Horne, who was appointed health minister in October 2011, said he was surprised the preferential treatment of Helios patients may have occurred while on his watch.

He said he didn’t know about it and it’s impossible for him to be aware of “every interaction that occurs in the health system.”

Horne said he doesn’t think it’s necessary for officials to speak with Helios brass.

He said he doesn’t want to interfere with the inquiry and will wait until it wraps up with a report and recommendations.

Wildrose health critic Heather Forsyth said it’s unfortunate Horne isn’t going to act quickly.

“If Minister Horne finds it offensive, then it’s up to him to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” she said.

“It’s incumbent upon him to show leadership and make sure this is not happening, not only from Helios but any clinic.”

NDP critic Rachel Notley said Helios executives and doctors need to be called to give evidence at the inquiry, as well as managers of other private clinics.

“I think what this issue actually tips off is a much larger issue of queue jumping that exists with the integration of privately funding health care with publicly funded health care.

“This is the tip of the iceberg.”

She said before the Helios evidence came up, the inquiry was a ridiculous, expensive public relations exercise for the government.

“If it actually manages to stumble into the area of preferential access as a result of private funding of health care, then I think we could see it do some good.”

Just Posted

In this Monday, March 15, 2021 file photo a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is pictured in a pharmacy in Boulogne Billancourt, outside Paris. Questions remained Wednesday about the future of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in Canada, as Manitoba limited use of the shot and Ontario announced it planned to save an incoming shipment to use as second doses.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Christophe Ena, File
Alberta could receive 76,500 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine next week

Alberta should be getting a large shipment of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine… Continue reading

An anti-lockdown protest went ahead outside a café in central Alberta on Saturday, despite pouring rain and a pre-emptive court injunction. (Photo by The Canadian Press)
RCMP investigating whether credible online threats made against officers

Online images purportedly showing officers attending weekend rally at Mirror in rifle crosshairs

Bowden Institution Black Press file photo
Bowden Institution inmate dies from COVID-19 complications

Bowden death the sixth in Canada’s federal prison system

(Contributed)
FOUND: Police locate Red Deer missing youth

Red Deer RCMP thank the public for their assistance

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer and several members of city council helped kick off the spring Green Deer cleanup campaign on Wednesday. Veer said city workers do their best to keep the city looking good, but need volunteer help to get rid of litter that has blown into bushes onto road sides over the winter. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff)
Red Deer city councillors launch spring Green Deer campaign

Volunteers are needed to keep the city looking good

Permanent residency
Canada announces new pathway to permanent residency for families of crash victims

Ottawa is launching a new policy to help the families of victims… Continue reading

Co-founders Craig (left) and Marc Kielburger introduce Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau as they appear at the WE Day celebrations in Ottawa on November 10, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Ethics watchdog: PM didn’t violate conflict rules over WE Charity, but Morneau did

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not breach the Conflict of… Continue reading

Toronto FC forward Jozy Altidore, center, celebrates after scoring a goal against the Columbus Crew with teammates from left, forward Tsubasa Endoh, defender Omar Gonzalez and forward Patrick Mullins during the second half of an MLS soccer match, Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Bradley, Altidore scores in Toronto FC’s 2-0 win over Crew

ORLANDO, Fla (AP) — Michael Bradley had a goal and an assist,… Continue reading

A football with the CFL logo sits on a chair during a press conference in Winnipeg, Friday, November 27, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
Former defensive lineman Klassen tackling retirement as he did opposing quarterbacks

Klassen spent seven CFL seasons with Montreal, Calgary and Ottawa

FILE - Contestant Lauren Spencer-Smith on an episode of ABC’s American Idol. (American Idol/ABC photo)
‘American Idol’ contestant exits show amid video controversy

A 16-year-old “American Idol” contestant has dropped out of the singing competition… Continue reading

FILE - Ellen DeGeneres appears during a taping of the “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” in Burbank, Calif. on May 24, 2016. DeGeneres, who has seen ratings hit after allegations of running a toxic workplace, has decided her upcoming season next year will be the last. It coincides with the end of her contract. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)
Ellen DeGeneres to end long-running TV talk show next year

Viewership dropped by 1.1 million people this season

Ottawa Senators centre Josh Norris, right, celebrates his game-winning overtime goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs with left wing Brady Tkachuk Wednesday May 12, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Norris scored winner, Senators beat Maple Leafs 4-3 in Andersen’s return from injury

Norris scored winner, Senators beat Maple Leafs 4-3 in Andersen’s return from injury

Rafael Nadal, of Spain, holds up the trophy after beating Daniil Medvedev, of Russia, in the final at the Rogers Cup tennis tournament, in Montreal on Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Tennis Canada could move top tournaments to US if Toronto, Montreal plan not approved

Tennis Canada could move top tournaments to US if Toronto, Montreal plan not approved

Most Read