Thursday, November 18, 2010

The neglect hits home

"I'm sick and tired of throwing my father in the pickup truck every time he's dying. My own father has had to go to the ER five times and almost died in the waiting room." -    Dr. Raj Sherman, Edmonton Tory MLA, Alberta's parliamentary assistant for health and an Emergency Room Doctor
Sherman crated a stir by circulating a letter harshly attacking the government for a string of broken promises to fix the province's Emergency Room system.  He writes that his trust in Premier Stelmach “is severely tarnished”.
“The premier made a promise to the ER doctors in writing and has broken his promise not only to the ER doctors, but also to the seniors, the 1.8 million Albertans who present for emergency care, and their two million family members, and to all frontline healthcare professionals.”
After recounting his efforts to pass on ER doctors’ concerns to government, Sherman added: “It’s time that I also take one for my team that I trust, the front-line ER doctors. Please stay tuned for my public comments.”
Having lost the trust of the one medical doctor in their caucus, the Tory government's attention to the health file still seems focused on their new Health Act, shaping up as just another incremental attack on public healthcare.  
It's pathological really; when Stelmach won the internal vote that made him premier he firmly and publicly renounced Ralph Klein's open war on public healthcare and those who supported it.  There was an all but open acknowledgment that the ideological fixation with delivering Alberta's healthcare system into the waiting clutches of the insurance industry was spectacularly unpopular and helped end Klein's career.  
But then he put health in the hands of the repulsive Ron Liepert.  A far right, bullying ideologue on a file that the public manifestly does not trust the government on.

When Lipert finally alienated every stakeholder and the public enough that the clamor grew too loud, he was replaced with Gene Zwozdesky, former Liberal turned floor crosser and one of the token moderates in the government.  Zwozdesky is a much more soothing presence, but is famous as a Mister Dithers who never actually accomplishes anything.  

Now after years of neglect the system has reached its breaking point.  The government bleats that we're spending more on healthcare than ever, more than every other province, but that ignores the massive structural damage caused by the criminally stupid cutbacks of the Klein years that much of the recent spending has been used to paper over and repair.  And it ignores that as a percentage of the province's GDP, a far more useful measurement of need and affordability, the province is spending much less than it used to.

This government will forever by synonymous with a healthcare system undermined and under attack.  Thinking anything is ever going to change with them is purely pathological.

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