Delayed AHS document appears and disappears from site

Alberta Health Services’ quarterly report on health-care performance measures is already three months late. Now the Alberta Liberal Party is asking why a “watered down” version was briefly posted on the AHS website before vanishing last week.

Alberta Liberal Leader Raj Sherman says after discovering “Performance Report Three” on the site party staff contacted the Alberta Health ministry to ask if it was indeed the long-awaited quarterly. He says it was quickly taken off the AHS website though the party took screenshots of the report before it was removed.

Posted to the Alberta Liberal website the screenshots show the report no longer contains the 45 system performance measurements or raw data for each health region. It now consists of performance indicators divided into six categories: Acceptability Safety Accessibility Appropriateness Efficiency and Effectiveness.

“Alberta Health Services has developed 15 performance measures which reflect key areas within the health system that are important to Albertans. They are also held as standards within care” states the report.

Sherman says he is concerned with the report’s finding that Alberta’s hospital admittance wait times — accepted globally as one of the most important performance indicators in any health system — now average 22.4 hours and that the government’s goal is to reduce that to 19 hours by 2016. He says the United Kingdom reports admitting patients to long-term care within four hours 95 per cent of the time. He adds that the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians recommends aiming to move a patient from the emergency department to a long-term ward within six hours.

“The average Albertan could fly to England and be admitted quicker than if they went to a hospital in Alberta” says Sherman. “The performance measures as they were reported [in previous AHS reports] were very comprehensive very thorough. They gave raw data and it is very open and very transparent…. I am disappointed that the government of Alberta is reporting on health care this way and they’re watering down their measures.”

Responding to Sherman’s questions in the legislature about where the overdue report was Health Minister Fred Horne said on November 5 that the report was late because “we are in the process of reviewing the performance indicators for our health-care system…. We’ll continue as we do on a regular basis to make information available about the very good performance of this health-care system to all Albertans…. We want to make sure that it is not late that it is something that is provided routinely and that when the statistics are ready they will be provided. But I want the honourable member to know that our commitment is to reviewing the indicators to make sure that they’re relevant to Albertans.”