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AHS three-year plan outlines $220M in cuts, funding priorities
Julia Parrish, CTV Edmonton
Published Wednesday, May 29, 2013 6:45PM MDT
Last Updated Wednesday, May 29, 2013 6:46PM MDT
Alberta Health Services officials have released their health and business plan for the next three years, and a plan to save hundreds of millions of dollars in the next year.
Health care in Alberta received a 5 percent increase in the last provincial budget – meaning Alberta Health Services has a $13.355 Billion dollar budget in 2013-14.
Officials said the budget leaves AHS with the challenge of maintaining the same level of health care, while trying to find $220 million in savings to fund new programs.
According to Dr. Chris Eagle, AHS President and CEO, the system will be facing some changes.
“Change is necessary to achieve a transformational change we’re talking about,” Dr. Eagle said Wednesday. “The status quo really has no place in the healthcare system.”
Dr. Eagle said the plan identified areas where the organization can save money – from administration costs, and a number of bed closures that have already been announced for the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton.
AHS said in the next few months a number of beds in Rockyview and Calgary will also close.
Health officials said a major task facing AHS is maintaining care for a growing population.
“Health spending already takes 45 percent, or almost half of provincial government spending,” Health Minister Fred Horne said. “There is not much room for health care spending to grow behind that.”
AHS is focusing on three categories, which received the largest funding increases – community-based care funding has increased nearly 10 percent, inpatient acute nursing care funding has increased 4.6 percent and emergency and outpatient services has grown by about 6.4 percent.
In addition, AHS officials are still trying to cut wait times in emergency rooms – only the Stollery Children’s Hospital has come close to reaching a four hour goal.
In addition, no hospital has reached the target of seeing and admitting patients within eight hours.
“Albertans and Canadians tend to use ER departments much higher than other countries,” Dr. Eagle said. “We have to look at what’s driving those people to the emergency departments.
“That’s the fundamental thing, why are they showing up at the ER, why are they not receiving care in the community.”
However, the leader of the Official Opposition was quick to criticize the plan – which is considerably shorter than the one submitted in 2012.
“Last year, the AHS business plan was 105 pages, this year the business plan is 46 pages long, what is missing?” Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith said.
“What it appears to be is that because they haven’t been able to reach their targets, they’ve decided to get rid of them or hide them.”
With files from Kim Taylor