An Edmonton doctor is warning that since Christmas there has been a push to cut spending at several area hospitals, including limiting the amount of overtime worked by nurses.
The doctor — who CBC has agreed not to name over concerns about his job — claims that Alberta Health Services has also planned 20 days’ worth of operating room closures in the Edmonton area between January and March.
"If we're having to make cuts and closures just to accommodate last year's budget, next year's budget will be significantly worse," he said.
"And access to services and OR (operating room) capacity will be severely curtailed."
Alberta Health Services spokesman Kerry Williamson acknowledges that overtime costs are being capped.
"We are pulling back on overtime, as we look at ways to be more efficient and cost-effective," he said in an email to CBC News. "We are focusing on getting surgeries done in regular time."
However, Williamson said that the capacity issues experienced in Calgary and Edmonton since Christmas are not unusual, "but simply reflects the ebbs and flows of a healthcare system."
Less emphasis on wait time targets
The doctor says the cuts come after the government pledged to reduce wait times.
"I don't think you'll be hearing an awful lot about the priority for achieving workload targets, except that they're not going to be met," he said.
"Because we really can't do that under the budgets which hospitals are being provided with.".
On Tuesday, the Royal Alexandra Hospital was forced to cancel eight surgeries because twice the usual number of emergency procedures overloaded the OR
Another three surgeries were cancelled on Wednesday.