Premier slams 'theatrics' in healthcare crisis

Premier Ed Stelmach says he is tired of what he calls "recent theatrics" in Alberta's healthcare crisis.

Premier Ed Stelmach says he is tired of what he calls "recent theatrics" in Alberta’s healthcare crisis.

He says instead of assessing blame, Albertans should focus on improving the system.

The premier took the unusual step of releasing the statement Sunday night on his web page, along with an accompanying audio file.

"Albertans are tiring of the recent theatrics which have garnered most of the attention, and quite frankly, so am I," he said in the prepared statement. ""Right now everyone involved in the health care system must focus on improving the system - particularly the urgent needs in the emergency room situation - and not assigning blame."

Last week's meeting of health-care professionals dealing with crowded emergency rooms is a good start, Stelmach said.

The meeting was called after ER doctor and Tory MLA Raj Sherman criticized the premier and his government over the emergency room crisis in the province.

He said a long-term strategy must focus on improvements in community and cancer care, mental health and primary care to ensure Albertans have access to family physicians.

Meanwhile health-care advocate David Eggen said the province's top health administrator should be fired after his bizarre comments following the emergency meeting.

Alberta Health Services president Stephen Duckett refused to answer reporters' questions about the meeting — saying he was too busy eating a cookie.

Duckett used his online blog on the weekend to apologize.

"I think that Mr. Duckett was feeling frustrated and he doesn't have a good communications means to tell us what Alberta Health Services is doing in general," said Eggen, executive director of Friends of Medicare.

"I think this apology is an indication of that secretive and controlled nature that is getting in the way of progress for health care."