The Alberta Government provided an update on the province’s healthcare system this morning (Nov. 8). The province will be taking steps to refocus the healthcare system by focusing on four key areas.
The areas are primary care, acute care, continuing care, and mental health and addiction.
The first organization that will be formed will be for continuing care. Health Minister and MLA for Red Deer North, Adriana LaGrange expects the organization will be ready to go by the spring.
“The continuing care organization will be responsible for oversight and coordination services and supports all operators, including the refocused Alberta Health Services as well as Covenant Health. All of these operators will continue to deliver services under contract with the new continuing care organization,” said LaGrange
Under the new structure, Covenant Health will continue to offer services in acute care and continuing care but will no longer be contracted and funded through agreements with AHS to establish direct relationships with the new organizations.
The continuing care organization will be working to add more continuing care spaces, attract and retain healthcare workers, advance innovative solutions, and support Albertans as they choose how they would like to live.
Mental health and addictions
LaGrange noted that the next organization to be formed will be the mental health and addictions organization. Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, Dan Williams provided the details.
“My ministry will closely oversee the new provincial mental health and addiction organization being created. This new organization will be responsible for the delivery of mental health and addiction services currently delivered by AHS. This includes the delivery of a comprehensive continuum of care that includes prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery supports. We will also be working closely with the nonprofits and charitable organizations who provide many mental health and addiction services across our province,” said Williams.
The province says the mental health organization will focus on the following tasks:
- Supporting Albertans struggling with addiction or mental health challenges in the pursuit of recovery
- Ensuring Albertans can access a full continuum of recovery-oriented supports
- Improve mental health and addiction care for Albertans by further expanding access to treatment and recovery supports in Alberta
Primary care and acute care
In the fall of 2024, LaGrange expects to unveil primary care and acute care organizations.
“The core mandate of the new primary care organization will be to ensure every Albertan is connected to a regular family doctor, nurse practitioner, or primary care facility, regardless of where they live in the province,” said LaGrange.
The primary care organization will focus on the following outcomes:
- Ensuring all Albertans have a family physician or nurse practitioner
- Providing timely access to high-quality primary care services including after-hours no matter where they live
- Supporting health professionals to provide comprehensive primary care
The acute care organization will oversee the delivery of health services at hospitals, urgent care centres, cancer care centres, clinical operations, surgeries and emergency medical services.
The acute care organization’s main goals will be:
- Shorter wait times in emergency departments and surgeries
- Lowering emergency medical services response time
- Higher quality care across the province and enhancing access to care in rural areas
The 12 AHS advisory councils will also be replaced by 12 new advisory councils that will include an Indigenous Advisory Council as well.
“These local advisory councils will represent and advocate for regional perspectives, bring forward local priorities and give input on how to continually improve the system. Overall alignment between the four new health organizations will be overseen by an integration council that will also track efficiencies, remove barriers and improve outcomes,” explained the health minister.
The Ministry of Health will also be changing structure which will include creating a procurement and system optimization secretariat and expanding the role of the Health Quality Council of Alberta.
The guiding principles of all these new healthcare organizations are as follows:
- Having a single-functioning health care system
- Improve patient outcomes
- Ensure a seamless patient journey
- Support the workforce to enhance frontline and local autonomy
- Transparent communication
- Remain committed, but flexible
“The newly refocused system will be more accountable, ensuring consistent quality care across the province. Patient outcomes will be better monitored as a result, and all of this will result in a better system not only for patients but also for healthcare workers,” said Smith.