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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Open Letter to Albertans from Dr. Raj Sherman

Reposted from the Alberta Liberal Caucus Blog:

Dear Albertans,

Last week’s scathing Health Quality Council of Alberta (HQCA) report on patient safety was a shock to many. Unacceptably long ER wait times, endangerment of patient safety, chaos within the AHS, bullied doctors operating within a climate of fear and intimidation, and “bureaucratic and political interference” – all were detailed in the HQCA report.
For some, the HQCA’s deeply disturbing report into the sorry state of Alberta’s health care system is news. For doctors like me, nurses, and other front-line health care workers, however, this report is both unsurprising and incomplete. We know the true situation is even worse. There is more truth out there.

That is why it is so urgent that a meaningful inquiry into our health care system be conducted as soon as possible. To be truly effective – and to find as much of the truth as possible – I strongly believe this health care inquiry must have the following elements:
• It must be an independent, public judicial inquiry – free of any political interference whatsoever and completely open to the close scrutiny of Albertans;

• It must be empowered to compel testimony from witnesses, especially doctors, most of whom are so gun-shy of AHS that they will not come forward unless subpoenaed;

• It must have all authority to protect these witnesses from punishment for testifying;

• It must be very broad in scope, with the mandate to look into matters beyond just ER wait times, the bullying of doctors, and queue jumping; and

• It must report to the Legislature and not to Cabinet.

Our health care system has been broken by this PC government and it must be examined from all angles. The crisis with our ambulance services must not be left out of this inquiry. The lack of efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability caused by the creation of the AHS must not be left out.

And the appalling lack of family doctors for all Albertans, as well as the lack of home care and long-term care beds for our seniors – and the political reasons for these failures – must not be left out.

We once had the best health care system in Canada. Now we have one of the highest-spending and lowest-performing systems. Albertans deserve the full truth as to why. Albertans also deserve to know why this government has run our health care system into the ground – and to see those responsible held to account.

It is clear that we must fix the health care system. An important step in this direction will be to make the HQCA a truly independent body which reports to the Legislative Assembly – and not to Cabinet. We cannot afford to delay. Lives, quite literally, are at stake.


Dr. Raj Sherman
Leader of the Official Opposition

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