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Alberta

Alberta leads the country in eliminating surgery backlog

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Surgery volumes exceed pre-pandemic levels

Alberta is now exceeding 100 per cent capacity for surgical volumes and is leading the country in eliminating the COVID-19 surgical backlog.

While all provinces delayed surgeries during the pandemic, Alberta delayed fewer surgeries than other provinces. For example, in the second wave, five to 10 per cent of surgeries were delayed in Alberta compared with between 30 and 60 per cent of surgeries postponed in Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec.

“As the pandemic recedes, Alberta’s government will be pushing as hard as we can to ensure that any delayed surgeries are completed as fast as possible. Thanks to the incredible dedication of surgical teams in AHS and at chartered surgical facilities, we are getting closer and closer to that goal.”

Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health

Through its surgical recovery plan, Alberta expects to recover faster than many other provinces.

The surgical recovery plan is now integrated into the Alberta Surgical Initiative, which will provide all Albertans the surgeries they need within recommended wait times. The initiative is improving and standardizing the entire surgical system from the time patients seek advice from their family doctor, to when they are referred to a specialist, to their surgery and rehabilitation.

“By carefully reducing the number of surgeries being performed in response to the pandemic, we were able to increase capacity in our intensive care units and ensure people with COVID-19 who needed ICU care could receive it. Now, we are able to focus on our surgical recovery plan. I am so proud of our teams who continue to work hard to ensure Albertans have high-quality care.”

Dr. Verna Yiu, president and CEO, Alberta Health Services

Quick facts

  • Throughout the 2020-21 fiscal year, surgical teams were able to support surgical activity at about 92 per cent of pre-COVID levels, with more than 268,000 surgeries completed compared with approximately 290,000 in the previous fiscal year.
  • About 40,000 surgeries were delayed in Alberta over the past 16 months:
    • 25,000 surgeries were delayed in the first wave in the spring of 2020. All delayed surgeries from the first wave have been completed.
    • 5,000 surgeries were delayed in the second wave during fall 2020 and early winter 2021. Another 10,000 surgeries were delayed in the third wave beginning in April 2021.
    • 95 per cent, approximately 12,000, of these surgeries have been rebooked.
  • No emergency or urgent surgeries were delayed or postponed during the pandemic.
  • Most cancer surgeries continued during Alberta’s pandemic response.

This is a news release from the Government of Alberta.

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Alberta

Alberta ombudsman says she doesn't have the power to probe EMS dispatch consolidation

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EDMONTON — Alberta’s ombudsman says she doesn’t have the power to investigate a complaint about the decision to consolidate ambulance emergency dispatch services in the province.

The complaint was filed by the cities of Red Deer, Calgary, Lethbridge and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.

The municipalities have contended that the decision to consolidate the dispatch services to save the government money could put the lives of people in their communities at risk.

In a release late Friday, Ombudsman Marianne Ryan says the decision was technically made by Alberta Health Services, which her office is prohibited by law from investigating.

When the United Conservative government announced the consolidation in August 2020, then health minister Tyler Shandro said the province’s dispatch system would allow for better co-ordination of all ground ambulances and air resources.

At the time, the four mayors of the municipalities, none of whom are now still in office, said they were blindsided by the decision and would fight the change.

“While the issue being complained about clearly affects many Albertans, I am bound by my governing legislation to only investigate matters that are clearly within my jurisdiction,” Ryan said in the release.

“Given the substance of the complaint has been widely reported in the media and that it relates to an issue affecting a great many Albertans, I advised the mayors that I would be making a public statement.”

Last February, a judge granted an interim injunction sought by Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services after the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo stopped transferring emergency medical calls to the provincial dispatch centre.

The municipality, which includes Fort McMurray, stopped transferring calls after its council decided the provincial ambulance dispatch service was putting patients at risk due to delays and confusion.

A lawyer for Wood Buffalo had argued it was in the public interest for the municipality to keep handling emergency medical calls through its own dispatch centre.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 26, 2021

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Alberta Ombudsman can’t do anything about City of Red Deer complaint about 9-11 Dispatch

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Ombudsman Responds to Municipalities’ Complaint About Ambulance Dispatch

Marianne Ryan, Alberta’s Ombudsman took the unusual step of publicly commenting on a complaint received involving Alberta Health Services.

The City of Red Deer, along with the municipalities of Calgary, Lethbridge and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo filed a complaint to the Ombudsman regarding Alberta Health Services’ consolidation of ambulance emergency dispatch services.

The Ombudsman Act authorizes the Ombudsman to investigate administrative decisions of government ministries and many related bodies, but the Act specifically prohibits her from investigating decisions of Alberta Health Services (AHS).

“My office thoroughly analyzed the complaint and confirmed that the decision to consolidate ambulance dispatch services was indeed made by AHS. While many government-related bodies fall under my jurisdiction, AHS is not one of them,” stated Marianne Ryan, Alberta’s Ombudsman. “In fact, the Ombudsman Act specifically states that my powers of investigation do not apply to health authorities. My ability to investigate AHS decisions would require a change in legislation. While the issue being complained about clearly affects many Albertans, I am bound by my governing legislation to only investigate matters that are clearly within my jurisdiction.”

Investigations by the Ombudsman are conducted in confidence, and it is the Ombudsman’s general practice not to comment publicly on complaints, especially ones that are not being investigated.

“Given the substance of the complaint has been widely reported in the media and that it relates to an issue affecting a great many Albertans, I advised the mayors that I would be making a public statement.”

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