Health Care Cuts Not the Solution to Balancing Alberta's Budget

Friends of Medicare has learned that as of February 28th, 2013, the Royal Alexandra Hospital will be closing 18 beds in the Medicine Transition Unit.  The closure of these beds will result in the layoff of 31 LPN's and Nurse Aides as well as 2 service workers and 1 unit clerk.

"Staff were advised that these bed closures were a direct result of budget cutbacks," reports Sandra Azocar, Executive Director of Friends of Medicare.

Almost a year ago Alberta Health Services announced the opening of 360 beds in Calgary and Edmonton that were designed to relieve the pressure from emergency departments and improve access to care.  Beds were opened at the Royal Alexandra Hospital, University of Alberta Hospital, Rockyview General Hospital Foothills Medical Center and Peter Lougheed Center in Calgary. "These beds are currently being used for people who no longer require acute care and are awaiting long-term care placement", indicates Azocar.   "No one knows where these patients will be sent to, given the ongoing shortage of long-term care beds."

"We are very concerned with the direction that this government has chosen to take when it comes to tackling its budgetary deficit," says Azocar. "These beds were included in the government's 5-year funding plan put in place three years ago. It does not make sense that the money for the beds has run out. Bed closures and reductions of front-line staff will only create more pressure on an already stretched health care system".

Friends of Medicare is calling on Premier Redford and Health Minister Horne to reverse these cuts and to rule out further cuts to health services in the upcoming budget.

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