We now have a different leader of the United Conservative Party and Premier.

In time of change I would like to put out a wish list of what “differences” are needed for the Health Sector.

Wish One: Organizational and Management Culture Change

The first is the dramatic change away from a politically driven, top-down approach, removing the long tradition of command and control instead of collaboration. Now more than ever, we need to build on the knowledge and experience of those who are interacting with patients directly, on the front lines and in the communities. They are the ones that will know what works and what doesn’t. No Politician, including the Premier, has nor should be expected to have all the answers needed at any point in time.  Collaboration and respectful teamwork are the key attributes of a strong organization that is able to deliver on their vision. With the right leadership culture the positive collaborative environment will spread throughout the organization.

Wish Two: Establishment of an Independent Safety Review Board

The immediate establishment of a truly independent, fully funded Patient and Provider Safety Review Board will create the transparency and accountability essential for our health care system.  This Board will have the authority to investigate all safety concerns (both incidents and the potential policies needed to reduce the risk of recurrence) and to report their findings directly to the citizens of Alberta.  All health care delivery entities, from clinics to hospitals, laboratories to extended care homes will be covered by this Board.  Where policy or legislative changes are necessary, the Board will have the authority to suspend the existing practice and keep the suspension in place until those issues are addressed to the Board’s satisfaction. 

The current situation in Alberta and across the country is not acceptable at all.  This harm is physical, and emotionally traumatic for patients, their loved ones, and all who care for them.   For those trying to do their best in the heath sector, it is becoming increasingly intolerable and support for this group is lacking.  The political solutions to date have been to simply recruit more professionals from greater distances and bring them into the same unacceptable conditions.   This is not a solution at all. It would be much better to work with the people we have and create an environment which encourages them to stay and empower them to make changes which benefit all Albertans.

We have a different Premier.  The question is how different?  My judgement rests on whether there will be acts of genuine collaboration and true engagement with those that know what needs to change from their own experiences, or will it be another version of control, political meddling, and disconnected declarations from the top.  Will there be established a fully funded, public reporting body that is independent from the politicians in government?  Anything less is just another government agency limited from reporting anything that could reflect negatively on “political” safety rather than address Patient and Provider safety.  The health sector should be dedicated to safely caring for all of us.

Foundational Choices for Alberta’s Health Care

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