Alberta to replace current patient-care model with a new health delivery system

The Alberta government, led by Premier Danielle Smith, is embarking on a significant restructuring of the province’s healthcare delivery system, aiming to address capacity issues and improve services. 

The overhaul will transform the current healthcare model, breaking down the single service provider approach and dispersing the responsibilities of Alberta’s healthcare provider, Alberta Health Services (AHS), among several new organizations.

During a news conference, Premier Smith announced a series of structural changes that will reshape how healthcare services are provided to Albertans. Four new organizations will assume responsibilities for delivering health services in primary care, acute care, continuing care, and mental health and addiction care. AHS will primarily focus on acute and continuing care, with other AHS functions being held accountable by the new organizations.

Smith highlighted the need for change, citing unacceptable wait times, staffing shortages, and limited access to specialized care for Alberta patients, all stemming from structural issues within the system. Dividing healthcare responsibilities among various specialties is expected to yield better outcomes and alleviate the burden on the system.

Smith has previously criticized AHS for its top-down decision-making and lack of responsiveness, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. The government plans to introduce legislation in the spring to implement the reorganization over the next 18 to 24 months, at an estimated cost of $85 million. 

The transition is projected to affect around 250,000 healthcare workers, but the government has pledged to prioritize the protection of front-line healthcare jobs during this process.

To oversee the transition and ensure a smooth operation of the restructured system, a newly formed council will be responsible for the four new organizations. Health Minister Adriana LaGrange has appointed a seven-member board to lead this effort, chaired by former Alberta cabinet minister Dr. Lyle Oberg.

Additionally, Alberta Health will restructure the current 12 regional advisory councils, and the four health-system sectors will collaborate closely with these new regional advisory councils. Furthermore, a procurement and system optimization secretariat will be established at Alberta Health to monitor the delivery of goods and services and drive efficiency within the healthcare system.

Source: CBC News

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