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

Court to rule on B.C.’s pipeline permit law in crucial case for Trans Mountain

VANCOUVER — A court will rule today if a proposed British Columbia… Continue reading

Theresa May: A prime minister defined and defeated by Brexit

LONDON — Theresa May became prime minister in 2016 with one overriding… Continue reading

SpaceX launches 60 little satellites, 1st of thousands

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX has launched 60 little satellites, the first… Continue reading

Cross-Canada corridor concept getting dusted off ahead of election

OTTAWA — The notion of a pan-Canadian corridor dedicated to rail, power… Continue reading

RCMP investigate suspicious package in downtown Red Deer

Part of downtown Red Deer was closed to traffic due to a… Continue reading

Dogs and drugs don’t mix: Red Deer business wants to leave downtown after 18 years

One business owner is done with downtown Red Deer after 18 years.… Continue reading

Cast your votes for the Best of Red Deer

Nominations for the Best of Red Deer Readers’ Choice Awards are officially… Continue reading

O Canada: Hockey hotbed now produces tennis players, too

ROME — It’s typically Canadian that Denis Shapovalov, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Bianca… Continue reading

Proctor back chasing running records after cross-Canada speed attempt

CALGARY — Dave Proctors’ attempted speed record across Canada last summer was… Continue reading

Big names headed to New Mexico to film ‘The Comeback Trail’

SANTA FE, N.M. — Oscar winners Robert De Niro, Tommy Lee Jones… Continue reading

Lawyer: Deal close in Weinstein sexual misconduct lawsuits

NEW YORK — A tentative deal has been reached to settle multiple… Continue reading

Seniors: The unheard melodies

The sights and sounds around us enable us to experience our world.… Continue reading

Police find urn with ashes along bank of Red Deer River

RCMP find urn with ashes along bank of Red Deer River Red… Continue reading

North Vancouver RCMP seek skier whose pole caused brain injury to B.C. teen

VANCOUVER — A North Vancouver family is joining with RCMP to urge… Continue reading

Most Read