Friday, May 16, 2008

Super Board for Health, Will it Affect GP?

The province has decided to do do away with Alberta's 9 health regions and amalgamate them in to one, governed by a "super board". That means that as of yesterday Peace Country Health doesn't exist.

I'm sure the DHT will have something on this but if you are looking for the story you can read about at the following sites:

Edmonton Journal, news
Edmonton Journal, opinion
daveberta, opinion
AGRDT, opinion

In general I don't have to much of a problem with the new super board concept. I particularly like the integration of Cancer, Mental Health and AADAC under one banner. There will be rocky periods for all the organizations during the integration process but in the end it's positive that they are all being recognized as part of "Health Care". This is a natural evolution of what the province did when they took over ambulance service from peace country municipalities. We used to run it through GPREMS but now it's totally integrated with Peace Country Health - there are advantages to having "health care" start from the moment you are picked up in an ambulance.

The concerning thing for the regions outside of the Edmonton & Calgary heartland is the risk of all the resources being sucked back in to those two centres.

I can tell you that people in Grande Prairie are very concerned about what impact this will have on the plans for a new hospital here. It appeared as though our regional board was having a tough time getting support for it in the capital (even though the project had been trotted out quite a few time prior to and during the election by the Conservatives trying to show that they were investing in infrastructure)

As far as I know only about $250m of the funding has actually been approved at the provincial level. My personal bet is that the total cost of the construction will be close to $1B ... there's a pretty wide gap there and I am worried that first thing we hear from the new super board will either be:

A) 3P (Public Private Partnership)

or

B) WOOSH!!!! (That's the sound of the money being sucked back into Edmonton and Calgary)

It is totally possible that the new super board will speed up the process and that our desperately needed hospital will happen just as soon as if there had been no change - but, on balance I think the to alternatives above are just as likely.

So in the end I think the super board can be a positive change but I'm also wary of what the possible impact might be on people up here.

Somewhat related topic.... I find it interesting that the provincial government sees value in taking action on forced amalgamation in healthcare (and in the past education) but they have shown no appetite for it in municipalities.

If the economies of scale are so good in both of these other two areas why is it that municipalities are left to duke it out across the province?

** Update **

The Daily Herald Tribune website now has the local reaction stories up. Not surprisingly there is a lot of concern. It sounds very bad for our new hospital but on the good side we actually have someone from GP on the Super Board.

DHT Stories:
HERE
HERE
&
HERE, Editorial
(Great editorial title by the way; "Wheel Reinvented Again?"

1 comment:

ch said...

I share your concern about P3s, particularly when you look at Liepert's track record in Education. I've never been the biggest fan of this method for building public infrastructure, but it's particularly concerning when you consider how little to no advance research was undertaken before the P3 model was decided on for schools. Liepert couldn't even produce a P3 vs. fully-public cost comparison document. It just seems like well-thought out, careful, innovative provincial policies are too much to ask for these days.

P.S. Thanks for the link!

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