United Conservative leadership candidates promise health-care reform – Health

Two of the leadership candidates for Alberta’s United Conservatives say they will pursue more private-care options to fix a broken health-care system.

Jason Kenney says his father died waiting for care and that access to a long waiting list is not access to care.

“My father, seven years ago, waited for 15 hours sitting in a chair in an emergency ward waiting for somebody to see him and died that day, effectively without care,” Kenney told about 500 people at leadership debate Thursday.

“My dad, if he was picked up off a sidewalk as a heroin addict, would have been treated faster at a county hospital in Detroit than he was here in Calgary.

“We have brilliant and often heroic front-line workers but the system … simply isn’t working.”

‘Decentralized decision-making’

All four candidates said restructuring is vital for a system that is spending $21.5 billion a year but is not delivering the outcomes.

Kenney and candidate Doug Schweitzer said simpler surgical procedures, such as hip and knee replacements, can be effectively delivered for less money under the public-health umbrella.

“We need to get back to decentralized decision-making in Alberta, and we also have to get back to innovating,” said Schweitzer. “So many (minor surgeries) can be provided better, faster, cheaper. If the private option is there, we need to take advantage of it and use it.”

Candidate Brian Jean recounted how his adult son died amid confusion and problems in the health system.

He said a wholesale reorganization is needed to reduce the levels of management and improve service.

“There are too many layers of managers in the (health system). We have one manager for almost five employees,” said Jean, adding the province needs to reorganize purchases and consulting fees and fix technology.

“There’s over a thousand different software systems and none of them speak to each other.

“How can you expect the doctor in one area of the province to be able to talk to a hospital or a…

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