Ex-Alberta Health boss says queue-jumping happened in past
Duckett says he never approved special access to health care for VIPs
The Canadian Press
Posted: Dec 4, 2012 3:59 PM MT
Last Updated: Dec 4, 2012 8:15 PM MT
The former chief executive of Alberta's health superboard says preferential treatment for prominent patients was an accepted practice when care was delivered by a network of smaller health regions, each with their own bosses.
But Stephen Duckett says he never asked any questions about it when he took over Alberta Health Services because he wasn't interested in leading a witch hunt.
“My view was going forward in this issue. The past was the past," he testified.
"My concern was making sure it didn't happen going forward."
Duckett testified that he was told of a number of "fixers" that were used by the regional health boards. He identified Brian Hlus, a Capital Health bureaucrat, as one person who fielded requests from MLAs.
“A number who told me about those sorts of roles, and who told me, for example, that I should have someone to do those things. That it was to fix practically anything.”
He says he instituted a policy where all requests for special access would go through him and that no requests were made.
Some MLAs not happy with change, Duckett says
Duckett said he heard complaints from government MLAs when he made steps to stop the practice of preferential treatment, identifying former parliamentary secretary to the minister of health Raj Sherman as one of them.
Sherman was later suspended from the Tory Party after publically criticizing hospital wait times in the province. He then crossed the floor and has become the leader of the Alberta Liberals.
Outside the inquiry, Sherman didn't say much about Duckett's testimony.
"The details in question to Dr. Duckett’s comments, I’ll make available on the 13th when I testify,” Sherman said.
Duckett said he could not recall any violations of his policy while he was in the job, though he said in hindsight a special flu shot clinic for the Calgary Flames hockey team was wrong.
He is testifying via videoconference from Australia at a public inquiry in Edmonton into allegations of queue-jumping in the health system by well-connected Albertans.With files from CBC News
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