Dr. Swann in Question Period on the Health Care System – 05 June 2017

Taken from the Alberta Hansard for Monday, June 5, 2017

Health Care System

Dr. Swann: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. For years Alberta Liberals have been pointing to the Alberta Health Services quarterly performance reports as an excellent way for Albertans to assess how the system is working. Unfortunately, those reports are rarely up to date. When I asked the Health minister last week – two weeks ago, actually – she said that she hadn’t seen the report yet, which is troubling.

Dr. Swann: She did promise to follow up immediately with Alberta Health Services and inform the House. Two weeks have passed. The minister needs to respond. When will the reports be released so that Albertans can finally decide what’s going on?

The Speaker: The hon. Minister of Health.

Ms Hoffman: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I want to congratulate the member on his second attempt at retirement as leader of his party. Certainly, your service to your party and to Albertans is appreciated, hon. member.

I have followed up with Alberta Health Services, and the report is making its way to their board. Once it is finished going through the board process, it will come to my office, and then I will release it as quickly as possible. This is a process that happens typically. As it’s part of the annual report, it goes to the full board. When it is available, I will certainly reach out to the member and ensure that he’s aware of it.

Thank you.

Dr. Swann: Well, Mr. Speaker, what the data have consistently shown is that we’re failing to deliver humane, comprehensive seniors’ care in this province. The Health Quality Council reports hundreds of seniors not receiving the right level of care in the right place at the right time: 787 people most recently reported being warehoused in hospitals and 973 waiting for placement in the community. With numbers like these how can the minister say that she is providing seniors with dignity at the time when they need it most?

The Speaker: The hon. minister.

Ms Hoffman: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker and to the member. Absolutely, there has been a long need for additional seniors’ care, including long-term care, dementia spaces, and increased investment in home care. Certainly, that was the case under the previous government for many years. I’m glad that we’re making important investments in those areas. We’re on track to be able to open 2,000 new long-term care and dementia care spaces within two years, and we’ve increased home-care supports signif-icantly. For those who are living in hospital, we certainly think that the staff there are doing a better job than warehousing, but living in a hospital is not ideal.

Dr. Swann: Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General’s report on better health care for Albertans highlighted the opportunity for better integration of clinical information systems. Unfortunately, the government has not yet required physicians to provide their clinical data to other caregivers. Clinicians are looking for leadership. When will the minister require reporting standards for physicians to share important information with other caregivers?

The Speaker: The hon. minister.

Ms Hoffman: Thank you again, Mr. Speaker. We’re working with the Alberta Medical Association to implement the amendments that were done to the agreement that we have with the physicians. These amendments will see improvements in primary care such as information sharing and data sharing as well. I’m pleased that the physicians came back to the table two years before what was required under the previous agreement under the former govern-ment and that we were able to make these important changes as well as committing investment to a clinical information system to ensure that patients can have integrated, seamless access to their data and that the health professionals who are making decisions have the best up-to-date information for those patients as well.