ER wait time targets being watered down, Raj Sherman says

Liberal leader is accusing Alberta Health Services of quietly lowering the goals it set to improve the province’s health-care system, as seen in report taken off agency's website.

Liberal leader says province is quietly lowering goals

Alberta Health Services is quietly lowering the goals it set to improve the province’s health-care system, according to the leader of Alberta Liberal Party. 2:20

Alberta Health Services is quietly lowering the goals it set to improve the province’s health-care system, according to the leader of Alberta Liberal Party.

Raj Sherman also accuses the AHS of pulling a copy of a long-overdue report card on emergency wait times off of its website without warning.

The national benchmark is six hours. So they're planning for a system to fail.- Raj Sherman, Alberta Liberal leader 

For months, the Liberals have been calling for the report, which was supposed to be released in September. Last week, the party noticed that it had been posted on the AHS website.

“We called AHS and we called the minister's office. Shortly thereafter, the report was removed," Sherman said.

The Liberals captured screenshots of the report card before it was taken down and have posted some of them. Sherman says he was discouraged by what he found, saying that the province had watered down many of the goals that it had set for itself when it came to health care.

Albertans are waiting longer than ever for surgery, for emergency care, for family doctors," he said.

"And the government has changed its reporting measure."

Changing goals

Liberal Leader Raj Sherman says Alberta Health Services is quietly lowering the goals it set to improve the province’s health-care system, as seen in report taken off agency's website. (CBC)

According to the screenshots captured by the Liberals, it’s an average wait of 22 hours to be admitted to hospital through the emergency room. The province’s goal is to have that down to 19 hours for 90 per cent of patients by 2015.

That’s more than twice as long as the goal AHS set three years ago, when they aimed to have people admitted within eight hours.

"The national benchmark is six hours,” said Sherman. “So they're planning for a system to fail."

The deleted report also set the goal of having 90 per cent of patients discharged from the ER in seven hours. The original goal was 70 per cent within 4 hours.

Officials at AHS refused and interview, but did provide a written statement.

“The measures reflect a better balance across the spectrum of health care and are designed to better show health system performance,” it read.

The organization says the report that was taken down was not finalized, and that it would be putting it back online later.

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