Saskatchewan’s premier is pushing for reforms to health care that he says include bold targets and new ways of delivering services.
Brad Wall says publicly funded health care is only sustainable if there’s a concerted effort to deliver services in a more efficient and effective way. He says provinces can’t continue to make big budget increases for health care.
“Because eight per cent on 40 per cent of your budget every year isn’t sustainable,” Wall said Tuesday.
“I don’t know how many taxes the people of the province would want to pay to support that or how many other cuts you’d have (to make) to achieve that.”
Wall said it was “increasingly frustrating” to see the increase when wait times for care weren’t going down.
The premier will bring that message to a national health-care conference Wednesday in Montebello, Que. He’ll speak to the group and take part in a panel discussion with economist Don Drummond and Globe and Mail journalist Andre Picard.
Wall wants to talk about reforms being made to improve care in Saskatchewan, including the delivery of publicly funded services by private surgical clinics.
He said, for example, the province has saved millions by better managing the blood supply.
“There has to be the discarding of blood after a while. And so lean management techniques were brought to bear on the process and I think it’s been…a $10 million savings over a period time and just a better just-in-time approach to management of that inventory.”
The Saskatchewan government has promised that by 2014, all patients will have the option to receive necessary surgery within three months.
In its March budget, the government also said all Saskatchewan residents can choose to be connected to a primary health-care team that includes or is linked to a family physician by March 31, 2015. The plan is to deploy new models of primary care centres.
Wall has said another goal is to eliminate waits for emergency room care by March 31, 2017.
The province says it will do that by improving patient flow in hospitals to ensure patients have access to care in the most appropriate setting.
The premier thinks he can sell that idea to about 115 delegates who are expected to attend the conference.
“This happens in hospitals that aren’t in Shangri-La. It’s happening in North America. I think we better get to that point,” said Wall.
“It’s an emergency room and so by definition we ought to be focused on not having long wait times for emergency.”