Government scheme to move surgeries to private clinics in BC absurd, costly and undermines patient care

Government scheme to move surgeries to private clinics in BC absurd, costly and undermines patient care

Earlier today, the NDP Opposition released FOIP documents showing that the UCP government is working on a plan to send Alberta patients and surgeons to private surgical centres in British Columbia. 

“This plan is not rooted in evidence and not supported by clinical leaders in our province,” said Chris Gallaway, executive director of Friends of Medicare. “It has nothing to do with shortening waitlists and nothing to do with expanding surgical capacity here in Alberta. This is a purely ideological plan to further expand the role of private health care in Canada, while using our public health care dollars to facilitate private profits for a surgical centre in BC.”

The documents released today show that starting in the fall of 2021, and continuing into the spring of this year, the UCP government compelled Alberta Health Services (AHS) to enter into secretive contract negotiations with the Okanagan Health Surgical Centre in Kelowna, British Columbia. 

“Chartering private surgeries into BC goes far beyond this government’s usual playbook of health care privatization here in Alberta. Now they want to fly patients AND our surgeons to another province to perform procedures in a private surgical centre,” said Gallaway. “This absurd plan to shuttle patients and surgeons back and forth will add unnecessary costs to our public system, and ignores concerns about how this will disrupt the continuity of care before surgeries and during post-operative care.”

The FOIP documents make it clear that the government is pushing this plan on to AHS, despite the concerns of clinicians in Alberta, who do not support this proposed pilot. Friends of Medicare and others have already spoken out at length about the problems with the government’s Alberta Surgical Initiative and their unfounded claims that privatization will improve surgical wait times

“Looking at other jurisdictions, we already know that schemes that rely on private surgical centres won’t add capacity, won’t tackle waitlists, and won’t save money. In fact, this pilot would likely cost us more,” said Gallaway. “Health care workers, experts and advocates have repeatedly offered public solutions to surgical wait times, but have been ignored by a government more concerned with facilitating private profits than strengthening our public health care.”

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