Nine health regions to form one superboard: Liepert
Published Thursday, May 15, 2008 4:43PM MDT
Alberta's nine health regions are no more.
Health Minister Ron Liepert announced Thursday the government will be creating one "superboard" in an attempt to make health care more efficient and improve patient care.
The announcement comes after CTV Edmonton was the first to break the initial details of the plan on Tuesday.
The new entity will replace all regional health authorities and merge the Alberta Cancer Board, the Mental Health Board and the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission.
The board, temporarily made up of a chair and six members, is effective immediately. There is no word on how many jobs will be affected in the switch over.
"I need to be clear, (the board members) have full authority to make decisions that are necessary to ensure Albertans receive health services on an uninterrupted basis," Liepert said.
The board will eventually expand to a CEO and 15 members.
Premier Ed Stelmach said Wednesday the government wants to cut back on excessive administrative costs coming from the province's $13-billion health system.
The creation of an all-encompassing administrative centre is drawing concerns from some health professionals, who say those in the rural areas will have little say on how the system is run.
Opposition parties widely panned the idea Friday, saying there's no proof the system will deliver better health care.
Liberal health critic David Swann said regional issues will fall in between the cracks under the new superboard.
"This is a distancing between decision makers and front-line workers," he said.
NDP MLA Rachel Notley said the board gives more control to the province and takes it away from the regions.
"This is a continuation of a pattern of arbitrary unplanned an un-thought out top-down change," she said.
Liepert defended his decision Thursday, saying no front-line workers will be affected.
"I need to make it clear this morning that today's decision is about governance only," he said. "Patients and those working in the system will not experience change in the delivery of health services in their region."
Liepert initially announced his plan to cabinet ministers earlier this week, with high support from other MLAs.
The new Alberta Health Services Board is the first major decision to come out of the government's action plan since it was announced April 16.