So two things to talk about here…
To recap, our head of AHS was fired yesterday as a result of many factors, but the most recent and immediate cause being his infamous cookie comment.
So many factors here to upset me. (Or at least cause questions.) Should the head of AHS be a political position? Should it be a position that gets something done? With the Alberta super-board it seem to me to be impossible that the position won’t be a little of both. So we hired a fellow with almost no political acumen at all. For years everything Duckett has done has resulted in the Gov’t coming along to smooth the waves after. Since Zwozdesky was given the Health portfolio it has been apparent that they plan was to keep Duckett away from the cameras – create that separation.
But that doesn’t work. The province either needed someone with the political skills in the position or they needed to change the position. Here’s what I see as the problem. If you hire a politician into the role they will not be able to provide effective leadership to the board. I think it is unlikely to find someone competent at organizing a Health super-board and being a politician. But the head of the super-board is too big a job not to be political. I’m not sure there is a correct person for this job.
Next thing – what the heck is the separation between the ministry of Health and the AHS? The longer the super-board has been in existence the fuzzier this is getting. The ‘direction’ given by the minister to the board last night shows quite clearly the lack of true division between the two. That isn’t the first example of that kind of meddling though.
Next thing – the job as AHS board head is impossible. The direction provided whiplashes according to political winds. Tighten the belt. Don’t impact services. Improve services. Fix wait times that are in crisis. Don’t do anything to make the Gov’t look bad.
So I come to these conclusion. Mr. Duckett was a jackass, but getting fired for being rude to the media is silly and shows that the priorities of the job are messed up. Secondly, they’ll hire a friendlier face to replace him, but don’t count on that working to fix any of the deeper problems. I do not think the supper-board can work at all without significant restructuring and a much clearer division of roles and responsibilities.
(Personally, I think the whole super-board idea is a mistake, but I don’t really have an argument to support that point of view.)
The second issue to talk about is wait times. The whole Duckett affair has provided a week of distraction from the actual problems.
Now, personally I haven’t had any problems with our health system. I’ve dealt with it recently in three ways. Normal checkups with my doctor. I have no complaints other than my doctor’s booking system (but that is her system not the gov’ts or boards). Second interacting with Gov’t programs and AHS programs to assistance with mobility. This is slow, but seems to work. Third, visits to the ER and followups for stones. My wait times have been agreeable. The care I received was fine. I then had access to specialists quickly and have had several minor surgeries and many CT scans, X-rays and ultrasounds.
But that is only a single anecdotal data point. The stats show that wait times are way too long. I think 8 hours is too long to wait to get a paper cut looked at. Certainly the number of deaths while waiting should be a number approaching zero. Really, really close to approaching zero.
The question here is what is an effective strategy for dealing with them? I don’t know. Anyone have any ideas?