Monday, December 21, 2009

Alberta Health Grinch almost stole Xmas from the mentally ill.

Alberta Health seems to be going from bad to worse ever since they managed to jettison any local control and centralise the system in a Super Board. All Stelmach needs is more unpopular policies to make sure the Conservatives drop even lower in the polls. This is from this site.

Cutback plan dropped overnight

By Archie McLean,
EDMONTON — A plan to save $70,000 a year by taking free toiletries and snacks away from mentally ill patients was overturned by the Alberta government Saturday in a hasty flurry of goodwill.

"Something like this only adds to the feelings of stress and uncertainty that both patients and families are feeling right now," Fred Horne, MLA for Edmonton-Rutherford, said about the new cost-saving measures at Alberta Hospital Edmonton.

"It will be rescinded immediately."

Horne first learned of the policy by reading Saturday's Journal. He then spoke by phone to Health Minister Ron Liepert, a member of the premier's office staff and finally Alberta Health Services president and CEO Stephen Duckett, who was asked to kill the plan.

The policy was supposed to save $70,000 for the government by eliminating free items such as toothbrushes, face soap, feminine hygiene products, razors and nail clippers, as well as coffee and snacks for patients who live at the hospital.

...A spokeswoman for Alberta Health Services on Friday described the move as "part of aligning and standardizing our supplies across the province."

Horne is the premier's representative on a committee currently looking at how to implement the closure of 246 acute care beds at the hospital in northeast Edmonton. He expressed regret on behalf of the committee.

"We want patients and their families to know that they're at the centre of this process," Horne said.

NDP Leader Brian Mason said the flip-flop means the government is sensitive to recent polls showing their support falling across the province. He said the original policy was petty, small and unsurprising, given the government's approach to cutting spending.

The senior's ministry recently announced a $6-million clawback of funding to agencies that support people with developmental disabilities.

"They always turn on the most vulnerable among us," Mason said.

..Swann said the change of course raises questions about who is making policy, when a backbench MLA is able to reverse AHS policy with a few phone calls.

The Liberals have been calling all fall for Health Minister Ron Liepert to resign over his handling of the province's health reforms and the H1N1 vaccination program.

Austin Mardon, a prominent mental health patient activist who also has schizophrenia, applauded the government for acting so quickly to reverse the policy.

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