Notley promises extra $90M a year to reduce waits for surgery, emergency care

Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley is promising to spend an additional $90 million a year on health to further reduce surgery wait times if the party is re-elected April 16.

The money would also go toward getting patients quicker care in emergency wards, she said at a campaign event in Calgary on Tuesday.

She forecasts almost 40,000 Albertans would get faster cancer, open-heart and cataract surgeries over the next three years under the NDP’s plan.

The plan builds on work already done to reduce wait times for breast cancer surgery, stroke treatment centres and radiation therapy, she said.

“We have made good progress fighting for quality public health care, but we know there is more to do,” said Notley.

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“These strategic investments will ensure better care for Albertans so they can heal, get back on their feet and return home to their families faster.”

Notley says her government would continue to fund specialized EMS liaison teams to care for patients in emergency wards so that ambulance crews could return to the street faster.

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New rules would allow a single EMS crew to care for up to three patients needing admission, so that the majority of crews would be able to return to patrol within 90 minutes, the NDP said in a release.

Notley also promised to fund a new 10-bed mental health crisis unit at the Foothills Hospital emergency room as part of an expansion of psychiatric emergency services.

United Conservative Leader Jason Kenney has said he wouldn’t cut health budgets but would look to reduce administrative overlap.

The party’s health care guarantee says UCP is committed to “a health-care system that is universal and a health-care system that is universal and comprehensive, preventative rather than reactive, ethical and accountable, sustainable and cost-effective, accessible and portable, blends public, non-profit, and private sector provisions.”

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The UCP also pledges to “commission a comprehensive review of Alberta Health Services to reallocate capital away from administration to the delivery of front-line services.”